U.S.: Libyan sanctions will stay despite conviction
Bush: Accept responsibility, compensate families of victims first
And U.S. President George W. Bush said Wednesday that United Nations sanctions against Libya should remain in place until the country accepts responsibility for the bombing.
"I want to assure the families and victims the United States government will continue to pressure Libya to accept responsibility for this act and to compensate the families," Bush said during a Cabinet meeting.
A team of Scottish judges found Abdel Baset Ali Mohmed Al-Megrahi guilty of bombing of the plane, which exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988, killing 270 people. His co-defendant, Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, was acquitted of the attack.
U.N. sanctions only suspended
Sanctions imposed in 1992 and 1993 by the United Nations against Libya were suspended in 1999 after the Libyan government handed over the two suspects for trial in the Netherlands.
But U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said on Wednesday that Libya must "satisfy specific outstanding requirements," laid out in U.N. Security Council resolutions before the sanctions can be permanently lifted.
This means Libya must make a declaration of responsibility for the bombing, reveal everything they know about the incident, and pay compensation to the relatives of the victims, Boucher said.
Last week British diplomats and U.S. met with Libyan officials in New York to reiterate the conditions Libya must meet before the sanctions will be lifted. They are expected to meet again next week to reiterate the point.
Additionally, the U.S. is expected to make the case to the U.N. Security Council that sanctions should remain in effect until Libya complies fully with the resolutions. Officials say they are confident the council will agree.
U.S.: Libya must 'take responsibility'
How to treat Libya in the wake of the verdict poses one of the first foreign policy challenges for the Bush administration. While the U.S. insists that Libya "take responsibility" for the bombing, there was no hard evidence presented in court to suggest that Libyan President Moammar Gadhafi or any other high ranking Libyan official gave the order to bomb the plane.
Boucher called it a "fundamental logical common sense assumption" that the Libyan government would bear responsibility for an act undertaken by one of its agents, and that the Libyan government must be held accountable.
"It is fair the say that justice was done in this case," Boucher said, of the conviction, but added, "it is not fair to say that justice is done, period."
A senior State Department official said the verdict "does not close the book" on the situation. "I'm going to reserve judgment until the terms are satisfied."
The U.S. has been reluctant to characterize what exactly would constitute such a demonstration of responsibility, although officials have suggested that compensation for the families could be sufficient.
Boucher said U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell will be sending a letter to the victims' families shortly and "will meet with them soon."
FBI not backing down
The families have consistently put pressure on successive administrations and Congress to keep the sanctions in place and to follow the evidence as far as it will lead, even to Gadhafi himself -- a pledge U.S. officials swore Wednesday to uphold.
On Wednesday the Justice Department said it plans to continue its investigation into other possible people who were involved in the bombing.
"I'm going to be driven by the evidence," said FBI Assistant Director Neil Gallagher. "I wouldn't want to speculate how far up, what I haven't heard anybody suggest, that this was some sort of rouge operation by one individual operating outside the control or direction of the Libyan external security organization."
Gallagher suggested that information exists "within Libyan security organizations, if made known to the world would show the degree of coordination, organization and structure that would have supported this terrorist operation."
"That's the information that we need, that's to answer the question perhaps, how they did it, and the more difficult question, why?"
Even if the question is answered to the Bush administration's satisfaction, the U.S. still has unilateral sanctions in place against Libya that predate the bombing.
Those sanctions, which include a travel ban by U.S. citizens, a ban on arms-related exports, a denial of tax credits and a prohibition on foreign assistance, will remain regardless of whether U.N. sanctions are lifted, Boucher said.
Analyst: Libya has changed
To get rid of the sanctions, Boucher said Libya must "permanently and definitively end its support for and relationship with terrorist organizations."
Some analysts argue it may be time to bring Libya out of isolation. Robert Pelletreau, a former Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, and ambassador to Libya's neighbors, Egypt and Tunisia, argues that Libya has a role in the international community, which should not be ignored.
The U.S. has to look at Libya the way it is today, and that is not the same Libya that existed 15 years ago," he said. "There's no question Libya has some influence in Africa, and how Libya uses that influence should be an element in the overall equation ... They have to look at the Libya they would like to see and how U.S. actions can influence that kind of Libya."
White House nixes lifting sanctions against Libya after bombing conviction
Pan Am Flight 103
U.S. doubles Gulf forces
Case resigns as AOL chairman
New Yorkers look to plans for fractured skyline
Man stabbed in NY subway station
Search for missing woman continues
Climbers lost on Mount Hood found alive
N. Y. plans to heal skyline
Stocks rise on Case departure
Lieberman's presidential announcement today
New arrests may be linked to UK ricin scare
Jordan says farewell for the third time
Shaq could miss playoff game for child's birth
Ex-USOC official says athletes bent drug rules
|Back to the top|