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US, Britain to meet with Libya over Lockerbie


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Issue of responsibility remains vague

Finding a formula may take months


WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. and British officials will meet with Libyan representatives in New York on Tuesday to discuss what Libya can do to satisfy U.N. resolutions that it take responsibility for the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, officials said.

Under the Security Council resolutions, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi must take responsibility for the Libyan intelligence agent found guilty last week in the bombing, and must pay compensation to the victims' families.

Sanctions imposed in 1992 by the United Nations were temporarily suspended in 1999 when two Libyans were turned over for trial, but the responsibility and compensation conditions must be met before they can be permanently lifted.

The sanctions include a ban on air travel in and out of the country.

The resolutions also called for Libya to halt its support of terrorism and cooperate with the Lockerbie trial -- provisions which the United States and Britain say seem to have been sufficiently met.

Issue of responsibility remains vague

But the issue of responsibility has remained vague, as Libya has consistently denied involvement in the bombing.

During Tuesday's meeting, the second for U.S., British and Libyan officials since last week's verdict, officials hope to hear from the Libyans "how they see the responsibility-compensation requirement being met."

The official added that the United States and Britain will not go into the meeting "with bottom lines" as to what would be acceptable.

"We are not going to the meeting with any proposals," another official said. "We don't want to appear as if we are laying down the law." Officials are quick to point out that Libya would not be able to absolve itself from "criminal responsibility," and investigators can still bring more cases against Libyan officials or the government if they find new evidence.

"What we are talking about now is political responsibility," an official said.

Finding a formula may take months

Finding a formula acceptable to the Libyans is unlikely to happen before Libya has exhausted an appeal of the conviction of Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi. That could take several months.

"Nothing indicates they are willing to move quickly on this," an official said. The second defendant in the trial was acquitted.

The United States and Britain are facing increased pressure from Security Council members to lift the sanctions. The council will hold informal consultations Tuesday afternoon to discuss Libya and the future of the sanctions.

Officials say they are hoping for patience among council members while they work with Libya to meet the requirements of the resolutions. They insist they are "not moving the goalpost," or postponing the removal of the sanctions indefinitely.

"The U.S. and the U.K. are looking for the requirements of the resolutions to be met, no more no less," one official said. "And we are having practical discussions with the LIbyans and we are going to ask the council to please give us more time to do that."

Lockerbie appeal launched
February 7, 2001
Libya police halt UK embassy protest
February 6, 2001
Gadhafi criticizes Pan Am 103 verdict
February 5, 2001
Lockerbie families deny Gadhafi proof
February 1, 2001
Libya faces Lockerbie pressure
February 1, 2001
'I am clean' says jailed Megrahi
February 1, 2001
'I'm not an agent,' says freed Fhimah
February 1, 2001

Lockerbie Trial Briefing Site
Lockerbie Verdict
Scottish Courts Welcome Page
The Pan Am 103 crash website

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4:30pm ET, 4/16

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