- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi says a U.S. decision not to invite Libya to the recent Nuclear Security Summit in Washington was a “political blunder” and such treatment will not encourage Iran and North Korea to give up their nuclear ambitions.

Col. Gadhafi said Libya should have been invited to the conference, thanked for giving up its weapons-of-mass-destruction program and suitably rewarded.

“It was not useful for world peace, and it was not useful for disarmament. It does not encourage others to follow Libya’s example. I would really like to express my strong regret for Libya not having been invited to that conference,” he said, speaking via video link from Tripoli to a meeting of the World Affairs Council in Washington on Monday.

The Libyan leader did not elaborate on the nature of the rewards he wants for giving up the WMD program.

Leaders from more than 40 countries attended the nuclear summit in Washington on April 12 and 13. Besides Libya, Iran and North Korea also were not invited to the event.

A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the subject, said there was no particular effort to prevent Libya from participating in the summit.

“There was not an attempt to exclude any one country. There was simply a need to limit participants to facilitate a robust dialogue,” the official said.

“This summit is intended to lay the groundwork for activities that support the president’s call for an international effort to improve security for vulnerable nuclear materials in four years. We anticipate and welcome working with as many nations as possible on this critical effort which impacts us all.”

Libya announced in 2003 that it would voluntarily give up its WMD program. The decision was a step toward a thaw in Libya’s relationship with the West and a factor in the George W. Bush administration’s decision to lift economic sanctions and resume ties with Libya.

Col. Gadhafi said Libya had been approached by the U.S. and European countries to encourage Iran and North Korea to abandon their nuclear goals.

“The problem is that Libya has not been compensated, so the Libyan example is not attractive to them,” he said.

Libya had “not made any gains, for example, using nuclear energy for peaceful purposes with help from America or Europe to help us harness nuclear power for peaceful purposes,” he said. “If other countries see that the United States comes to their help, they will say ‘OK. Libya has gained from its position.’ ”

• Ashish Kumar Sen can be reached at asen@washingtontimes.com.

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