Libya makes bid to ease sanctions, appease U.S.

September 01, 1994|By Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON -- In one of several desperate bids to ease the tightening grip of United Nations sanctions, Col. Muammar el Kadafi's troubled regime in Libya has held out the prospect of turning over an indicted CIA renegade to appease the U.S. government, according to U.S. sources and a former CIA official.

Libya also may be willing to pay millions of dollars in compensation to the families of those who died in the 1988 bombing over Scotland of Pan American World Airways Flight 103 in hopes of pacifying its most outspoken critics and thus easing international pressure, according to families and their representatives.

But neither the Clinton administration nor the families of the victims appear interested in either possibility because they want to maintain pressure on the regime and hold it accountable for the disaster.

U.N. sanctions imposed in December and plummeting prices have cut annual oil revenues from $21 billion a decade ago to about $6 billion, making this the most difficult year of Colonel Kadafi's rule, according to U.S. and Arab officials.

As a result, Tripoli has spent at least $50 million in two years on ploys first to prevent sanctions, then to negotiate an easing of the punitive economic, arms and air travel restrictions, a U.S. official said.

The sanctions were imposed after Libya failed to cooperate with the investigations of the Pan Am 103 disaster and the bombing in 1989 over Niger of a French airliner in which 171 died.

The latest offer centered on CIA renegade Frank Terpil, a communications expert indicted with CIA undercover agent Edmund Wilson in 1980 over a conspiracy to kill a Libyan dissident and the sale of tons of explosives to Libya.

Terpil -- convicted in absentia and sentenced in New York to 30 years in prison on arms charges -- has spent the intervening years in Libya, Syria and Lebanon, as well as in Eastern Europe before communism's demise there.

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