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U.N. votes to lift Libya sanctions

The bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, killed 270 people.

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United Nations

UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- The U.N. Security Council has voted 13-0 to lift sanctions against Libya that were imposed in response to the 1988 bombing of PanAm Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.

The United States abstained from Friday's vote, as did France -- which blames Lybia for the 1989 bombing of a UTA DC-10 over Niger.

A vote was originally scheduled for Tuesday, but was delayed when France threatened to veto unless families of the UTA bombing victims reached a new compensation deal with the Libyan government.

While Germany voted in favor, it said it will seek compensation from Libya for the bombing of a Berlin disco in 1986 that killed two U.S. citizens and one Turk.

The resolution was submitted by Britain after Libya settled with families of the 270 people who died in the 1988 Pan Am bombing.

As part of that deal, Libya took responsibility and agreed to pay each family as much as $10 million -- $4 million once U.N. sanctions are removed, and more if U.S. sanctions are lifted.

The U.S. abstention allowed the Pan Am families to receive compensation while avoiding a conflict with keeping U.S. sanctions in place.

Deputy U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations James Cunningham said the U.S. decision "must not be misconstrued ... [as] tacit U.S. acceptance of the government of Libya."

The United States continues to have serious concerns about "other aspects of Libyan behavior," he said, citing Libya's "poor human rights record ... its history of involvement in terrorism, and, most important, its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery."

Libya is "actively pursuing" such weapons and "receiving foreign assistance, including from countries that sponsor terrorism," Cunningham said.

French U.N. Ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sabliere called the lifting of U.N. sanctions against Libya "an important phase in the process of reintegrating this country in the international community." But he also vowed that his country will be "vigilant" in watching Libya to see whether it improves its record on human rights and takes steps to stop terrorism.

A Libyan delegation was at the United Nations during the vote, but the representative did not address the council and left without speaking to reporters.

The Security Council had planned a vote on the resolution several times, but repeatedly delayed at France's insistence.

France demanded increased compensation payments for the families of the UTA bombing victims.
France demanded increased compensation payments for the families of the UTA bombing victims.

France had argued that the Pan Am settlement made inadequate a less generous deal that Libya reached years earlier with families of the 170 people who died in the 1989 UTA bombing.

In that deal, Libya did not take responsibility and paid victims' families only up to about $200,000 each - in some cases much less.

France announced Thursday that a deal for more compensation had been reached -- and that it was dropping its opposition to the U.N. resolution.

A family member of one of the UTA flight's cabin crew, who asked not to be identified, said she found the deal "highly unsatisfactory," and said it provides for "no more than one million dollars" for each family of the victims.

Legal fees will be taken from what they are paid, she said.

The money will be paid by the Islam Gadhafi foundation, which is run by the family of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

Families of some of the Pan Am victims gathered at the United Nations Friday for the vote.

"Today is just another day for us, a day of pain and suffering that we endure, thanks to Libya," said Kathleen Flynn, whose son was killed in the bombing. "What did happen today is we brought the Libyan dictator to his knees. Gadhafi had to admit that he was responsible ... [He] had to address the issue of paying reparations for this horrific crime. He had to realize that his country is held responsible."

She added, "Do I feel that this is a victory? Not really. This is just another day."

Other families have said they oppose the lifting of sanctions -- because they first want to see Gadhafi prove that he will not support terrorism.

-- CNN Senior U.N. Correspondent Richard Roth and Producer Liz Neisloss contributed to this report.

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