RSS FeedFacebookSearch
Gary Younge
Libya sanctions lifting delayed

Intense last-minute talks in closed session looked set to give French families until the weekend to conclude protracted negotiations with the Libyan government over increased payments for the victims in the 1989 bombing of a UTA airliner which exploded over sub-Saharan Africa.

"The mood around the table is that everyone wants to lift sanctions but not to have a vetoed resolution just for the sake of it," a Security Council source close to the talks said last night. "The question is if you give the French more time will that make any difference or will be just in the same place further down the road? There was a feeling that a time limit might be helpful to push the talks with the French families forward."

Earlier in the day the situation had been deadlocked after France said it would oppose a resolution to lift sanctions unless agreement was reached on compensation for the families. A negotiator for the French said an agreement was close and negotiations with Libya were continuing by fax and phone.

The French government asked Britain to delay the vote until an agreement could be reached. The French foreign minister, Dominique de Villepin, told his British counterpart, Jack Straw, that "France would have no other choice but to oppose the resolution" if a vote is held "in the absence of an equitable agreement".

But a spokesman for Tony Blair said Britain, which assumed the rotating presidency of the Security Council this month, would push ahead with the vote. "Clearly it is a dynamic situation, but it is still our intention to call a vote today," he said.

But while there was some impatience with the French, other council members felt it would be better to give the French more time if that resolved the issue.

"Everyone agrees to have resolution rather than failed resolution," a British diplomat said.

A range of deadlines was mentioned but the most likely day is Friday, according to Security Council sources.

The UN imposed the sanctions following the 1988 bombing of the Pan Am jet which crashed over Lockerbie in Scotland.

Libya agreed to a $2.7bn (£1.7bn) compensation deal last month for the families of the 270 Lockerbie victims, thereby paving the way for the lifting of sanctions. The deal will give each victim's family between $5m and $10m (£3.1m and £6.2m). The settlement embarrassed France which had settled for little more than $30m (£19m) to be shared by all the 170 victims' families in the UTA case. When the French families heard of the Lockerbie settlement they and Paris demanded more money.

Libya declared last month that a deal offering greater compensation had been reached, but the France parties have yet to accept it formally.

As the negotiations continued, 53 families of victims in the Lockerbie crash sat patiently in the Security Council gallery, waiting for diplomats to appear and vote.

The UN sanctions, including an air and arms embargo and a ban on some oil equipment and financial assets, were imposed in 1992 and 1994 and suspended in 1999 after Libya turned over two suspects for trial for the Lockerbie bombing.

Although Libya has never admitted responsibility for blowing up the UTA flight it paid a total of $34m to France after a Paris court convicted six Libyans in absentia for the attack.

Washington, which is expected to abstain on the resolution for domestic political reasons, has vowed to keep in force separate US sanctions including a ban on Libyan oil sales to the United States.

© Gary Younge. All Rights reserved, site built with tlc
Who Are We – And Should It Matter in the 21st Century?
book review
The more power an identity carries, the less likely its carrier is to be aware of it as an identity at all.
 follow on twitter
RT @mart_welton: Congratulations to all those getting their A-level results today. If you have BBB at A-level or above you can still apply…
RT @BernardineEvari: Please follow the groundbreaking online #MuseumofColour UK, founded by the unstoppable Samenua Sesher. The 1st gallery…
RT @EthnicityUK: Gary Younge is interviewed by @sonikkalogan about his work on racism and gun violence in @the_hindu #DataPoint podcast. h…
RT @thefreedomi: 🚨 NEW: Saudi women’s rights activist & academic Salma al-Shehab was sentenced to 34 years in prison + 34 year travel ban f…
RT @LRB: #DawnFosterForever! On Thursday 15 September at the @LRBbookshop, @BizK1, @piercepenniless, Lynsey Hanley and @garyyounge will d…
RT @ShowunmiV: This is how we support Black women and girls https://t.co/8YmgV21zHo
RT @sonikkalogan: It's #DataPoint Pod Thursday! In this week's episode, I talk to @noraneus, @garyyounge and @Casey_J_Wooten about the U.S.…
RT @bgnoiseuk: Next month, @LRBbookshop will host an event to celebrate the life and work of Dawn Foster with @BizK1, @piercepenniless, Lyn…
Help me Twitter. The quote: ""You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep Spring from coming." is most commonly… https://t.co/Xs7JkiOEd5
RT @the_hindu: #DataPoint | This Thursday, @sonikkalogan takes a look at the #US gun violence epidemic, as mass shootings continue to grow…
© Gary Younge. All Rights reserved, site built with tlc