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World welcomes Libya WMD move

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Gadhafi: His son said Libya was "very satisfied" with the deal.

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President Bush announces that Libya has agreed to dismantle its weapons of mass destruction.
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- France and Britain were among a number of world voices Saturday who welcomed Libya's decision to abandon its weapons of mass destruction programs as an important step toward rejoining the international community.

However, French foreign minister Dominique de Villepin urged Libya to "implement without delay" its commitment to compensating families of victims of the bombing of a French airliner in 1989.

UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw hailed Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi as "statesmanlike and courageous" for his decision to give up his WMD programs which was revealed Friday evening in simultaneous TV broadcasts by U.S. President George W. Bush and British PM Tony Blair. (Full story)

Straw made clear Saturday that Gadhafi's initiative had cleared the way for the lifting of U.S. sanctions against Libya, which could now rejoin the international community after more than a decade as a pariah state.

"Libya is heading down the path of disarmament. It's a success for the entire international community," de Villepin told reporters at the Foreign Ministry.

The surprise decision, made public on Friday, was "an important step towards the full return of this country to the international community," he said. (Full story)

Former U.N. chief weapons inspector Hans Blix told CNN he welcomed the move, but more work needed to be done.

"I think we need to know what they had," he said.

De Villepin said France wanted more compensation for the families of 170 victims of a UTA plane bombed over Niger in line with the $2.7 billion Libya paid to families of 270 people killed in the 1988 bombing of an airliner over Lockerbie, Scotland.

Meanwhile Gadhafi's son, Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, told CNN that Libya was "very satisfied" with the deal. It would allow Libya access to defensive arms, he said, and pave the way for the end of sanctions and resumption of relations with the U.S. and the West in general.

"It's a critical deal for Libya, because first of all we get access to defensive weapons and no sanctions on Libyan arms imports anymore. We will get access to the know-how and technology in sectors which were banned...and which Libyans were prohibited to study," he said.

De Villepin
De Villepin: Raised compensation for victims of the UTS crash

"And it will pave the way for the normalisation of political relations with the States and also with the West in general and also will lead to eliminate any threat against Libya from the West and from the States in particular."

Lifting sanctions could allow U.S. oil companies back into Libya, where U.S. firms were at one time producing more than 1 million barrels per day and where oil facilities could be enhanced to reach 2 million bpd within five years, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

The Libyan announcement came ahead of Sunday's 15th anniversary of the Christmas bombing of a Pan Am airliner over Lockerbie, Scotland, that killed 270 people. Libya escaped broader U.N.-imposed international sanctions earlier this year after accepting responsibility for the attack and paying out billions to the families of victims.

Washington left its sanctions in place, citing suspicions Tripoli was seeking biological and chemical weapons.

Maverick leader Gadhafi said the "wise decision" showed Libya was committed to "building a world free of weapons of mass destruction and all sorts of terrorism."

In his speech Friday Bush said Gadhafi, had "agreed to immediately and unconditionally allow inspectors from international organizations to enter Libya.

"These inspectors will render an accounting of all nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs and will help oversee their elimination," Bush said.

Libya's nuclear weapons program was "much further advanced" than U.S. and British intelligence had thought, and included centrifuges and a uranium enrichment program, all necessary components in making a nuclear bomb, a senior administration official said Friday. (Full story)

In his televised address from London, England, Blair said Gadhafi had approached British and U.S. officials in March to see if they could resolve the issue of its weapons programs.

"Libya has stated that weapons of mass destruction are not the answer for Libya's defense," Blair said. "Libya's actions entitle it to rejoin the international community."

CIA and British intelligence officials met with Gadhafi and other senior Libyan officials as the three governments negotiated the deal under which the Libyan government would give up its weapons of mass destruction programs, U.S. officials said. CIA officials also visited key sites in Libya during a nine-month period of negotiations that started with meetings in various European capitals.


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