- The Washington Times - Monday, September 20, 2004

President Bush has decided to lift sanctions against Libya, which he expects will trigger the release of more than $1 billion to families of Pan Am 103 victims, a senior administration official said yesterday.

Mr. Bush could announce the step as early as today, the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. The deadline for settlement with Libyan President Moammar Gadhafi’s government is Wednesday. The deal is not final until the formal announcement.

Mr. Bush has decided to end two sets of sanctions. The step would mark the latest reward from the Bush administration for Libya’s agreement last year to dismantle chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs. High-level discussions on the final phase of Libya’s disarmament pledges were held Friday in London.

“This victory is thanks to more than two decades of tough multilateral sanctions and firm diplomacy sustained through Democratic and Republican administrations,” said Rep. Tom Lantos of California, ranking Democrat on the House International Relations Committee.

The administration says Libya is to pay the new compensation after Mr. Bush agrees to lift both sanctions on air travel and a freeze on $1 billion in assets that belong to Libya or in which Libya has an interest.

Libya had insisted on a lifting of those sanctions as the price for the next compensation payment to families of the victims of Pan Am 103. The payment would come to $4 million per family.

In the 1988 bombing, 259 persons were killed on the plane, including 189 Americans, as well as 11 persons in Lockerbie, the Scottish village on which parts of the Boeing 747 rained down. Libya has acknowledged responsibility for the destruction of the jetliner. The families have received one compensation payment of $4 million each thus far, part of a total compensation package of $10 million each. One family opted out of the agreement.

Still on the books are sanctions related to Libya’s position on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terror. If negotiations eventually lead to removal of that sanction, Libya has said it will release a final compensation payment of $2 million per family.

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