Sun, Aug 31, 2008 - Page 6 News List

Libya ‘played with words’ to end sanctions

DPA , TRIPOLI

Libyan military graduates stand in front of a mural of Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi during the ‘‘Fateh’’ ceremony in the Mediterranean city of Benghazi, east of Tripoli, on Friday, to mark the anniversary of the coup that brought Qaddafi to power in 1969.

PHOTO: AFP

The son of Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi said the Libyan government had only claimed responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing in order to normalize ties with the West and get international sanctions lifted.

“Yes, we wrote a letter to the [UN] Security Council saying we are responsible for the acts of our employees ... but it doesn’t mean that we did it in fact,” Saif al-Islam Qaddafi said in an interview to be broadcast today by the BBC.

“I admit that we played with words — we had to. What can you do? Without writing that letter we would not be able to get rid of sanctions,” said Saif al-Islam, who took a central role in the talks to end Libya’s isolation.

Libya and the US recently signed a deal to compensate victims of attacks initiated by both sides during the 1980s, paving the way for the full normalization of relations.

The deal covers US victims of the bombing of a Pan Am flight over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988 and of a Berlin disco in 1986. Under the arrangement, Libya will place money into a fund to compensate victims and their families.

Libya is to provide about US$800 million for compensation into the fund to settle existing lawsuits and be immune from any further legal action.

Talking to an interviewer for the program The Conspiracy Files: Lockerbie, Saif al-Islam criticized the Lockerbie air crash victims’ families as “greedy” and “materialistic.”

“The negotiation with them, it was very terrible and very materialistic and was very greedy. They were asking for money and more money and more money and more money,” the BBC Web site quoted him as saying.

“I think they were very greedy and I think they were trading with the blood of their sons and daughters,” said Saif al-Islam, who carries out political and diplomatic roles on behalf of his father.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who had praised the US Congress for passing legislation that allows Libya to settle all pending lawsuits by victims of terrorism, will visit Libya next week, the first visit of its kind since 1953.

US-Libyan relations were restored in early 2004 after more than two decades of frosty relations after Tripoli agreed to turn over its weapons of mass destruction programs.

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