Libya's word awaited on Lockerbie suspects

September 12, 1993|By New York Times News Service

UNITED NATIONS -- A Libyan envoy is expected here next week to tell United Nations Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali whether the government of Col. Muammar el Kadafi is ready to deliver for trial in Scotland two Libyans accused of complicity in the bombing of a Pan American World Airways plane over Lockerbie, Scotland, in December 1988 that killed 270 people.

If Libya again refuses to turn over the men -- Abdel Basset Ali Megrahi and Lamen Khalifa Fhimah -- the United States, Britain and France will ask the U.N. Security Council to impose new restrictions on Tripoli beyond those laid down in April 1992, which cut Libya's air links with the rest of the world and banned arms sales to Tripoli. The new sanctions would seek to ban the sale of oil-drilling and other related equipment to Libya as well as freeze its foreign bank accounts and other overseas assets.

If, as some Western diplomats believe it may, Libya offers to surrender the two suspects in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, the Security Council is expected to suspend its ban on civilian airline flights to and from that country for 90 days.

At the end of this period, Mr. Boutros-Ghali would be asked to report on whether he believes Colonel Kadafi had renounced Libyan support for international terrorism. Only if the secretary-general says Libya has stopped supporting terrorist organizations will the Security Council consider permanently ending the air traffic ban. If the secretary-general cannot give this assurance, the ban will be reimposed.

Colonel Kadafi has recently made a number of public statements saying that Libya no longer supports terrorism. But the United States, Britain and France remain skeptical.

And this skepticism is likely to be reinforced by Algeria's reaction to a speech by Colonel Kadafi on Sept. 1 in which he praised the leader of Algeria's Islamic Salvation Front, a militant organization battling the government.

In a statement issued by its U.N. mission here, the Algerian government said Colonel Kadafi's speech showed he is "one of the principal supporters of terrorism" and accused Libya of smuggling arms into Algeria with help from Iran and Syria.

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