News and Views [ January 2000 ]

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Monday: 31 January, 2000: Since 1980, Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi has run up a $25.6 million tax bill on an office tower he had built at 309 E. 48th St., just a few blocks from the United Nations in New York City. Libyan officials have refused to pay property taxes, crying poverty because of U.S. sanctions that bar the rogue state from renting out any of the building's commercial office space. Lawyers for the Libyans have been trying to strike a deal with the Giuliani administration: They'll pay up if the city will persuade Washington to let Libya rent out space in the building. So far, the city's not going along. [New York Post]
Sunday: 30 January, 2000: Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi on Friday rejected a draft budget for 2000 and ordered the government to revise it. Qadhafi was shown on television at the opening session of the annual Libyan General People's Congress. He was shown throwing down the budget document and saying: "You must change the budget in full." The television, monitored in Tunis, gave no figures for the 2000 budget. Qadhafi said oil receipts should not be used for the state's ordinary expenses or for the import of non-productive goods. "You must do a new budget," Qadhafi told the gathering of some 400 delegates. The Congress met again in the afternoon and decided to disband and go back to the grass roots congresses to seek advice in the light of Qadhafi's orders. No date for a new session was set. [Reuters]
Sunday: 30 January, 2000: A Libyan soccer team featuring a midfielder with a notable surname squared off Wednesday against a Ugandan club in Kampala. Al-Saadi al-Qadhafi, son of Libyan President Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi, entered the match late in the second half at midfield and played 15 minutes. He had little impact on the game, as the Uganda Cranes defeated the Libyan side, 3-2. Al-Saadi arrived in Kampala on Monday, accompanied by a 90-person contingent that was guarded by heavily armed Ugandan soldiers. The president's son has great on-field ambitions. "I want to be the best player in Africa after a year or two, God willing," Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper quoted him as saying last month. [AP]
Saturday: 29 January, 2000: Britain's Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said Friday his policy of renewing contacts with Iran and Libya had brought results. "Critical engagement may require involvement without illusions about the regimes with which we negotiate," he said, in a speech in London setting out his foreign policy goals. He said contacts with Libya had encouraged Tripoli to hand over two suspects wanted in connection with the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am jet over Lockerbie. The pair will stand trial in The Netherlands later this year. [AFP]
Saturday: 29 January, 2000: Rwanda's foreign minister, Augustin Iyamureyeme, is in Libya on a three-day visit to strengthen bilateral ties between the two counries. "We have with Libya very old and varied co-operation relations in all fields. We intend to reinforce those links in the interest of the two countries," Iyamureyeme told PANA. On the UN Security Council meeting on the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo, he expressed optimism in its outcome. [PANA]
"al-Sidra" - A new Libyan online magazine [ "" ]

Friday: 28 January, 2000: Egypt and Djibouti on Wednesday discussed linking Sudanese peace talks with a Libyan-Egyptian mediation initiative, Egypt's foreign minister said. A proposal by Egypt and Libya last year sought to bring together all parties in Sudan's 17-year civil war. But the initiative received a setback when the United States said it preferred the Inter-Governmental Agency for Development (IGAD) to mediate, an option also preferred by the main southern rebel group, the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA). ``The question of harmonising the two initiatives was discussed,'' Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Moussa told reporters after a meeting of President Hosni Mubarak with his Djibouti counterpart Ismail Omar Guelleh. [Reuters]
Thursday: 27 January, 2000: Libya's General People's Congress, the country's top legislative and executive body, will start its annual session on Friday, Libyan radio said on Wednesday. The radio, monitored in Tunis, said the session would be held in Sirte, a coastal city some 400 km (250 miles) east of Tripoli. The Congress normally meets for several days and is attended by more than 400 grassroots delegates. Its role includes discussing the annual budget, naming the government, approving legislation and establishing policy guidelines. [Reuters]
Thursday: 27 January, 2000: Indications that Libya has backed away from its extended history of radical policies are being carefully monitored by U.S. officials, who say they are no longer inflexibly opposed to a new relationship with Libya. ``Change can now be imagined,'' says Ronald Neumann, a top aide in the State Department's Middle East bureau. But, he says, an accommodation with Libya ``is not necessarily a near-term likelihood.'' U.S. willingness to reassess its policies is based largely on the decision of Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi last spring to allow two suspects wanted in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 to be tried by a Scottish court sitting in the Netherlands. [AP]
Wednesday: 26 January, 2000: Libyan leader Colonel Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi telephoned Italian Prime Minister Massimo D'Alema on Monday just days after the European Commission, headed by an Italian, shelved a possible visit by Qadhafi to Brussels. Italian news agencies quoted D'Alema's office as saying it was Qadhafi who rang the Italian premier for talks. Details of the discussion were not made public and D'Alema's office was unavailable for comment. Libyan television said D'Alema told the Libyan leader Italy was keen to boost relations with Libya, a former Italian colony, at all levels, ANSA news agency reported. [Reuters]
Wednesday: 26 January, 2000: The first Libyan Arab Airlines plane to land in Britain since 1986 touched down Monday evening at London's Heathrow Airport, signifying improving relations between Britain and Col. Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi's regime. Britain had accused the state-run airline of supporting terrorist activity and banned all its flights in October 1986. Heathrow officials said the airline planned to operate three services a week between the two capitals. The Libyan state airline made an inaugural symbolic flight to London before turning around and returning to Tripoli. The British ambassador to Libya, Richard Dalton, was on board the flight, the Foreign Office said. [AP]

Tuesday: 25 January, 2000: European Commission President Romano Prodi, widely acclaimed as the man to steer Europe boldly into a new era, is finding it far from plain sailing. A series of problems, the latest of which was a retreat from an embarrassing invitation to Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi, and a failure to win support for some of his plans have caused grumbles of discontent in some European capitals. European Union officials say that after just four months at the helm, it is too early to give a full assessment of Prodi's leadership of the EU's executive but that he has a lot to prove. ``The honeymoon period is over. It is time to start producing results,'' one EU diplomat said. [Reuters]
Tuesday: 25 January, 2000: Members of Utah's Legislature were aware more than a year before the Olympic bribery scandal broke that Salt Lake City bidders used scholarships to help win the 2002 Winter Games. Senate President Lane Beattie, Rep. Marty Stephens and then-House Speaker Mel Brown were reportedly told in the fall of 1997 of the incentives given to members of the International Olympic Committee by members of the Salt Lake Organizing Committe. "Frank Joklik told us about scholarships,'' Beattie said Sunday of the SLOC president. "He said, `Here's what I found out and I've cut them off.''' `They were done, they were wrong, they were stopped and they won't continue,''' is what Beattie said Joklik told the lawmakers. But a ledger of IOC-related payments shows SLOC continued to pay tuition and living expenses for at least one IOC offspring, Libya's Suhel Attarabulsi, until Oct. 21, 1998. [AP]
Monday: 24 January, 2000: A key witness in the upcoming Lockerbie trial has watered down his testimony in the case against two Libyans accused of the 1988 airliner bombing, a Scottish newspaper reported on Sunday. Scotland on Sunday quoted sources close to the case as saying that Abu Maged Jiacha, who has been in the U.S. witness protection program for 10 years, had changed parts of his story when he was interviewed recently by defense attorneys. The newspaper said Jiacha would only tell the pair's defense lawyers that he may have seen one of the accused removing a suitcase from a luggage carousel, not loading it on, at Luqa Airport in Malta. The charges by British prosecutors state the bomb began its journey in Malta and continued via Frankfurt and London until its mid-air detonation over Lockerbie, the newspaper said. It said the new testimony was the latest setback for prosecutors in the case. A Maltese shop owner was flown to the Netherlands last year for an identity parade but failed to make a positive identification of the suspects. Lawyers for the accused have been travelling the world taking statements from witnesses who form the basis of the prosecution case. [Reuters]
Monday: 24 January, 2000: Libya says it is hoping to build its first railway system, with Chinese assistance. A senior transport official Mohammed Abdel Samad said the project would involve some three-thousand kilometres of track, linking the country's main cities. He said that feasibility studies had begun and that a Libyan team would go to China in the near future to discuss the details. Libya hoped its network would eventually link up with those of neighbouring countries. [BBC]
Monday: 24 January, 2000: The European Union patched up an embarrassing split over the conduct of foreign policy at the weekend by shelving an invitation to the controversial Libyan leader, Colonel Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi. European Commission President Romano Prodi, who made the invitation during a telephone call from Qadhafi on December 23, determined in follow-up talks on Friday the Libyan leader was not yet ready to meet EU conditions, a statement said. The statement from the EU's executive Commission said their exchange ``made clear that the conditions are not there for a prompt and constructive visit.'' The 15 EU member governments had been informed, it added. Diplomatic sources, however, told Reuters on Sunday that Qadhafi had come very close to meeting all of the EU's conditions ``then it seems he got cold feet and backed off.'' [Reuters]
Monday: 24 January, 2000: As part of its efforts to modernize its fleet, Libyan Arab Airlines said Sunday that it planned to acquire Russian transport and passenger planes. "We have decided to acquire a certain number of aircraft built by Russian manufacturers for transporting cargo and passengers," airline chief Sabri Shadi said, according to the official JANA agency. Shadi, who did not disclose the size of the order, also said that a cooperation agreement for training and maintenance would be signed with Russia. The Libyan airline has resumed international flights after the suspension in April 1999 of international sanctions imposed on Tripoli since 1992 by the United Nations. In October, JANA said the airline had signed an agreement with France-based Airbus Industrie to acquire 24 A320, A330 and A340 aircraft. But the European manufacturer said that while talks with Tripoli were ongoing, no contracts had yet been signed. [AFP]
Sunday: 23 January, 2000: The Spanish foreign minister, Abel Matutes, Thursday said in Tunis that his country favoured the reintegration of Libya in the Euro-Mediterranean dialogue if Libya shows "serious inclination" to that effect. Spain, being a Mediterranean country, has always pleaded for the need to foster stability, prosperity and peace in the region, Matutes said, stressing that "any move for the efficient and effective reintegration of Libya back into the international community should be welcomed." Matutes said that Spain has constantly been supportive of the involvement of Libya in the Euro-Mediterranean dialogue and welcomed Tripoli's latest eagerness to reintegrate into the international community. [PANA]
Sunday: 23 January, 2000: In the United States, the Clinton administration has unveiled long-awaited rules removing virtually all restrictions on high-tech companies selling even the most powerful data-scrambling software overseas. The administration said it still will require companies to seek permission to sell the scrambling technology to a foreign government or military, and will maintain bans on selling to seven nations accused of supporting terrorism: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Sudan, North Korea and Cuba. [AP]

Saturday: 22 January, 2000: OPEC members Libya, Iran and Algeria put their weight behind an extension of the cartel's lower production quotas and called for oil producers to abide by the ceilings, Libyan state television reported. Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar-Zangheneh and his counterparts from Libya, Abdullah Salem al-Badri, and Algeria, Chakib Khalil, said in a statement after meeting in Tripoli that they supported the OPEC market monitoring committee's recommendation to extend the quotas. They also called for members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and non-member producers to respect the production limits. Their meeting came a week after the market monitoring committee recommended maintaining production cuts agreed last March, when the cartel shaved about 1.7 million barrels per day from its output, boosting oil prices. [AFP]
Saturday: 22 January, 2000: Oil markets roared above $27 a barrel for the first time in nine years on Friday as OPEC oil ministers from Iran, Libya and Algeria urged the cartel to prolong deep output cuts for another six months. Brent benchmark crude for March leaped a full dollar higher to $27.11 a barrel, its highest since the Gulf War in 1991, before slipping back to $26.90 by 1535 GMT. Signs that major OPEC producers will keep oil output curbs in place beyond a scheduled end-March expiry has pulled already sky-high prices up another four dollars -- 17 percent -- in just eleven days. Gains found fresh impetus as Libyan Energy Minister Abdullah al-Badri told Reuters by telephone from Tripoli that he had agreed with new Algerian Oil Minister Chakib Khalil and Iran's Bijan Zanganeh to propose that OPEC extend supply cuts until September. [Reuters]
Saturday: 22 January, 2000: Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, whose troops are fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), met Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi Thursday to review the situation in the area, the official Libyan JANA news agency reported. The two leaders discussed peace efforts in Africa in general, "in particular the situation in the Great Lakes region, and efforts designed to bring back peace and stability to the continent," JANA said. Qadhafi is involved in mediation efforts in several conflicts in Africa, including the DRC, Sudan and the Horn. [SAPA / AFP]
Friday: 21 January, 2000: Libyan leader Colonel Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi will not get the invitation he is seeking to European Union headquarters until strict conditions are met, an EU spokesman said Wednesday. "It's very clear that we're not interested in any visit that would just provide a photo opportunity," he said. "The EU is asking Libya to clearly and unconditionally accept the Barcelona acquis in written form," he said, referring to the Barcelona declaration of 1995 which requires members of an eventual Euro-Mediterranean free-trade zone to embrace democracy, regional stability and market economy. "What we do want is a real breakthrough in relations between Libya, Europe and the international community," he added. [AFP]
Friday: 21 January, 2000: Searchers have recovered the two flight recorders from a plane that crashed last week off the coast of Libya killing 22 people, a Swiss official said Thursday. The two ``black boxes'' have been sent to Britain to be analyzed, said Hugo Schittenhelm, spokesman for the Swiss transportation ministry, which is helping Libya with the investigation. The Swiss-owned plane carrying 41 people crashed into the sea while taking oil workers from the Libyan capital, Tripoli, to an oil refinery at Marsa el-Brega on the Mediterranean coast. The pilot tried to make an emergency landing on the water after reporting that both engines had failed in quick succession during his airport approach. Schittenhelm said it appeared the plane had sufficient fuel. Both pilots were among the 19 people who survived. [AP]
Friday: 21 January, 2000: The monthly FIFA World Rankings remained virtually unchanged from December, extending Brazil's reign atop the ratings to 67 consecutive months. None of the top 23 teams changed position in the rankings announced on Wednesday with Brazil followed by the Czech Republic, France, Spain, Germany, Argentina, Norway, Romania, Croatia and Mexico. Libya jumped seven places into a tie for 123rd with Luxembourg and Kazakstan. [AFP]
Thursday: 20 January, 2000: In a court filing made public Tuesday, the U.S. Justice Department acknowledged that the lead prosecutor in the 1983 arms-dealing case against former CIA officer Edwin P. Wilson introduced inaccurate testimony. The revelation comes in the government's response to Wilson's appeal of his conviction for shipping 20 tons of C-4 plastic explosives from Houston's Intercontinental Airport to Libya. Wilson is serving 52 years in prison. Wilson, who had retired from the CIA, said the agency had authorized him to ingratiate himself with the Libyan government for intelligence-gathering purposes. [AP / Anchorage Daily News]
Thursday: 20 January, 2000: Portuguese driver Carlos Sousa and his co-driver Joao Manuel Luz were seriously injured in a four-car crash during the Dakar Rally in Libya on Wednesday, race organizers said. A statement from the organizers said the two drivers, who had been leading the grueling endurance race, were in a critical condition. Six other participants were injured. Late Wednesday, a spokesman at the Tunisian clinic where the racers were sent for treatment said their lives were not likely in danger. The injured participants were sent to the private Al Farabi clinic in Tunis, Tunisia. [AP]
Wednesday: 19 January, 2000: The Middle East News Agency says that officials from Egypt and Libya are meeting in the Libyan capital Tripoli today -- Wednesday to discuss their initiative to end the sixteen-year-old civil war in Sudan. Egypt and Libya want all parties in the conflict to appoint representatives to a committee that will be charged with convening a reconciliation conference. But the biggest southern opposition group, the Sudan People's Liberation Army, says the plan should be integrated in a more limited one being backed by the United States and other African countries. [BBC]
Wednesday: 19 January, 2000: The Dakar Rally restarted in Libya on Monday after terrorist threats forced a six-day delay and an airlift of the vehicles from Niger. Competitors in the rugged endurance race restarted in Sabha, some 400 miles south of the Libyan capital Tripoli. They will cover about 1,000 miles before entering Egypt on Thursday for the final stages, Egypt's Middle East News Agency reported. The race was halted after the French government warned of possible terrorist attacks in the central African country of Niger, a former French colony. [AP]
Wednesday: 19 January, 2000: The fourth Arab Film Festival, showcasing 27 movies and videos from the Arab world and the United States and featuring a retrospective on Egypt's Youssef Chahine, opens for a one-week run on Jan. 21. The festival will feature 35mm and 16mm features, shorts and videos from Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Palestine, Syria, Tunisia, Yemen and the United States. Films will be shown at the Broadway Performance Hall and the Little Theatre on Capitol Hill and at the Henry Art Gallery of the University of Washington. [Seattle P.I.]

Tuesday: 18 January, 2000: Improved weather conditions on Monday allowed rescue services to resume a search of the Mediterranean Sea for five people missing from a plane crash last week off Libya. The search, suspended at the weekend due to bad weather, was for three Libyans, one Briton and one Filipino still unaccounted for after the Swiss-owned plane crashed on Thursday, killing at least 17 people. Nineteen people -- 10 Libyans including the two pilots, seven Britons and two Indians -- survived when the plane, which took off from Tripoli, tried to make a crash landing and sank in 50 metres (165 ft) of water, five miles (eight km) off the coast. [Reuters]
Sunday: 16 January, 2000: Bad weather on Saturday hampered the search for five people missing in the crash of a Swiss-owned plane off the coast of Libya that killed 17 others, officials said. Nineteen people survived Thursday's crash, including the two Libyan pilots, when the plane made an emergency landing in the Mediterranean sea. All 38 passengers on board worked for the Libyan owned Sirte Oil Co. and were traveling from the Libyan capital, Tripoli, to a refinery in Marsa el-Brega on the Mediterranean coast. The plane had a three-person crew. The company's chairman, Ahmed Aoun, said the search for the missing five - three Libyans, a Briton and a Filipino - would continue ``both at sea and along the coast for as long as possible.'' ``Unfortunately, the bad weather conditions have meant we cannot search at sea today,'' he said. [AP]
Saturday: 15 January, 2000: The pilot of a Swiss plane that crashed into the Mediterranean Sea said the engines failed and he had no option but to attempt an emergency landing off the coast of Libya, a Swiss airline official said Friday. The twin-engine propeller plane struck the water near an oil refinery in Marsa el-Brega on Thursday, killing at least 17 people. The Libyan pilot and 18 other people survived the crash. Five people were missing. The pilot reported that both engines cut out in quick succession as the plane came in to land, said Eddy Meyer, head of flight operations for Zurich-based Avisto AG air services company, which owns the plane. ``In such a situation it's as if you are flying into a wall,'' Meyer told reporters Friday in Oberglatt, Switzerland. The weather was good at the time of the crash, and the crew was experienced, he said. [AP]
Friday: 14 January, 2000: Rescuers continue to search for survivors after saving 18 from a Swiss-registered plane that crashed into the sea off the coast of Libya. Libyan officials say at least 23 people are dead or missing. A report on state-run Libyan television said 17 of the 41 people on board were Libyans and the others were foreigners. It did not give their nationalities, although the UK Foreign Office later confirmed 13 were British. The plane, which was transporting oil workers from the Libyan capital Tripoli to an oil refinery, is owned by a Swiss-based company, Avisto. [BBC]
Thursday: 13 January, 2000: The Libyan news agency JANA quoted Libyan aviation and energy officials as saying a search operation for the victims of the Avisto AG plane was under way and 18 people had been rescued so far. It said the passengers of the plane worked for Libya's Sirte Oil Co. There was no immediate word on the nationalities of those feared dead, or on the details of the Libyan rescue operation. [Reuters]
Thursday: 13 January, 2000: Most of the 41 people aboard the Swiss-registered plane that went down in the sea off Libya on Thursday were Libyans and Britons, a spokesman for plane operator Avisto AG said. He told Swiss radio that 16 of those on board were Libyans, 13 were British, two were Canadian, three were from India, three from Croatia, three from the Philippines and one from Pakistan. Fifteen people were believed killed, officials said. There was no immediate word on the nationalities of those feared dead. [Reuters]
Thursday: 13 January, 2000: A Swiss-owned plane with 41 people aboard crashed in Libya today, officials said, adding there were reports of fatalities. The plane, which belongs to the Zurich-based Avisto AG air services company, went down this afternoon. The aircraft took off from Tripoli, according to Swiss air crash investigation authorities, but there was no immediate information about its destination or exactly where it went down. Swiss Transportation Ministry spokesman Hugo Schittenhelm said he had received unconfirmed reports that 15 people were killed. He said the plane apparently crashed during an emergency landing after both engines failed. The nationalities of the passengers was not immediately known, but Swiss Foreign Ministry spokesman Livio Zanolari said it understood there were no Swiss among the victims. [AP]
Thursday: 13 January, 2000: Zurich-based Avisto AG, which leased the Shorts SD360-300 to Sirte Oil Co in Libya to transport workers between its headquarters and various oilfields, said the plane had ditched in the sea while coming in to land. ``There were 38 passengers of various nationalities as well as two pilots and one flight attendant on board,'' it said. ``The accident happened around 1135 GMT during a flight from Tripoli to Marsa el Brega. According to our information, the plane made an emergency landing in the water for unknown reasons shortly before landing in Marsa el Brega,'' it said. It said it had no more details or any word on casualties. Marsa el Brega is Libya's main centre for producing petrochemicals and is operated by the National Petrochemicals Company (NAPECTCO). [Reuters]
Thursday: 13 January, 2000: The Maltese Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday that it intercepted a consignment of Scud missile parts destined for Libya in April and sent them to Britain several months later. A ministry spokesman told Reuters the consignment landed in Malta from London's Gatwick airport. The cargo was inspected on the island after suspicions it contained weapons equipment. The parts were subsequently confiscated and returned to London, where they were discovered to be Scud parts. Malta served as a main transit point for Libyan travelers and cargo when Tripoli airport was closed during years of international sanctions against Libya over the bombing of a Pan Am airliner over Lockerbie in 1988. [Reuters]
Thursday: 13 January, 2000: Libya is supporting Morocco in its efforts to stage the 2006 World Cup finals, the official Libyan news agency JANA reported on Wednesday. The agency, received in Tunis, quoted the Libyan Olympic Committee as saying that Libya was ready to help Morocco bid for and organise the event. South Africa, England, Germany and Brazil are also competing to host the tournament. The decision will be made in July. [Reuters]
Thursday: 13 January, 2000: Two giant Antonov 124 transport planes were due in Niamey on Wednesday evening to airlift the entire Dakar-Cairo Rally from Niger to Libya because of security fears. Four stages through the Tenere desert, seen as the highlight of the trans-Sahara test, have been cancelled. Organisers hope to resume the race on Monday. A total of 336 competing vehicles -- cars, motorcycles and lorries -- and 1,365 crew were waiting to be moved. The airlift was not expected to be completed until Sunday. It's a question of terrorism, more particularly terrorism coming from a country foreign to the one we are crossing, said Jean-Claude Killy, president of the company organising the event. [Reuters]

Tuesday: 11 January, 2000: Press reports about Scud missile destined for Tripoli being seized at a London airport were aimed at damaging improving relations between Libya and Britain, the official Libyan news agency JANA reported on Monday. ``What is reported about these arms is simply a bubble aimed at fishing in dirty waters,'' the agency, monitored in Tunis, quoted a Libyan foreign ministry source as saying. ``The Libyan parties concerned would see in these reports ...'' it added. [Reuters]
Tuesday: 11 January, 2000: A Taiwan textile firm on Monday denied any connection to a shipment of missile parts destined for Libya that were seized at London's Gatwick airport in November. ``We are an ordinary textile maker. We are not arms sellers,'' Wang Chuan-cheng, president of Nam Liong Industrial Corp, said by telephone from the firm's base at Yung Kang in southern Taiwan. ``We don't have that kind of technology to make missiles. It's just ridiculous,'' he said. [Reuters]
Tuesday: 11 January, 2000: An invitation to Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi to visit the European Union ran into further controversy on Monday over smuggled Scud missile parts and Libyan opposition to the Middle East peace process. Diplomatic sources said the latest developments could only reinforce the view that the off-the-cuff invitation extended to Qadhafi by European Commission President Romano Prodi late last month had been hasty and ill-considered. Prodi, however, said he had not changed his view that Qadhafi would be welcome as part of an effort to include Libya in the EU's Mediterranean development process, and denied that he had failed to properly consult EU members and colleagues. ``I did not ask anyone's permission. It's up to me whether to invite him or not,'' he told a news conference in Lisbon. [Reuters]
Tuesday: 11 January, 2000: British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook on Sunday had instructed the British ambassador in Tripoli to ``make clear to the Libyan government our deep concern over this incident.'' ``He will emphasise that this clear breach of the EU arms embargo is unacceptable and that there must be no repetition of such an abuse,'' Cook said. Cook said Libya would not be allowed to evade a European Union arms embargo via Britain, which recently re-established relations with the government of Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi. According to a London Sunday Times report paperwork found with the crates on November 24 indicated other missile shipments had already reached Libya via Britain. [Reuters]
Tuesday: 11 January, 2000: British officials were first aware of a consignment of Scud missile parts being smuggled to Libya last April as they discussed resuming ties with Tripoli, a British Foreign Office official said Monday. ``Suspicions were first roused in April,'' the official said. Britain immediately launched an inquiry into the consignment, which was designated as auto spare parts destined for Malta. But he said the issue was not raised with Libyan officials during talks to end the 15-year diplomatic break between the two countries because Britain ``did not want to prejudice the inquiry.'' Britain only announced it had uncovered the Scud parts over the weekend after a newspaper reported the consignment had been intercepted. Libya Monday said press stories about the seizure were aimed at damaging improving relations between Libya and Britain. [Reuters]
Monday: 10 January, 2000: Great Britain said Sunday it would protest an attempt by Libya to smuggle through London components of Scud missiles capable of carrying chemical or biological warheads. News that British customs agents discovered 32 crates of missile parts, disguised as automotive spare parts, on a British Airways flight destined for Libya was widely seen as an embarrassment to both countries. The discovery came within months of Britain's restoring diplomatic relations with Col. Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi's administration after a 15-year break. For Qadhafi, it marked a setback in his attempts at rehabilitating relations with Europe and the United States. British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook accused Libya of a "clear breach of the European Union arms embargo." The export of missile technology to Libya remains illegal under international embargoes. [AP]
Sunday: 9 January, 2000: Scud missiles with chemical or biological warheads were illegally smuggled into Britain and seized before their shipment to Libya, a Customs and Excise spokesman confirmed Saturday. The crates were found at Gatwick Airport south of London and were bound for Tripoli. "Our investigations into this seizure are continuing and no further details are being released at the moment," the spokesman said. The 32 crates of missile parts were discovered Nov. 24 in an airport transit shed during a joint investigation by customs and intelligence officers, according to a report in The Sunday Times newspaper. Paperwork seized along with the crates indicated the shipment originated in Taiwan and that other crates had already reached Libya, the newspaper said. [AP]
Sunday: 9 January, 2000: A rift emerged on Thursday between British and American relatives of victims of the 1988 Lockerbie airliner bombing only months before the trial of two Libyans accused of carrying out the attack. Some American relatives and U.S. politicians are pressing British and American officials to give assurances Libya was not promised its top officials would be immune from prosecution when it handed over the pair for the May trial. But British relatives said on Thursday the guarantees were unneccessary and that the Scottish justice system would not be hamstrung by any political deals. ``The sole purpose of this trial is to decide the guilt or innocence of the two Libyans who stand accused. The Libyan regime is not on trial,'' Jim Swire, a representative of British relatives, told Reuters. [Reuters]
Sunday: 9 January, 2000: Col. Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi, has reiterated that the solution to the issue of Arab unity and African unity lies in increased co-operation between the two sides. In a debate organised jointly by the "Arab Radio and Television" satellite channel broadcasting in Rome and the "Dubai TV" satellite channel, he noted that an Arab-African Union would be mutually profitable to Arabs and Africans. Touching on pan-Arabism, Qadhafi further stressed that the Arabs could, in this era, neither make use of religion nor the nationalist factor to strengthen their presence on earth. According to him, the era of sentiments is now over. "The era when the political map was formed along the lines of religion and the spirit of nationalism is over and the Arabs did not take advantage of it to edify their nation state," he added. "The peoples are now trying to live at ease and with dignity. This can only be done in a living space," Qadhafi noted. In the script of the programme, also published by newspapers in Tripoli, Qadhafi called for the Mediterranean to be a bridge for co- operation and not a platform and passage point for European military arsenals. [PANA]

Saturday: 8 January, 2000: When European Commission President Romano Prodi surprised everyone by discussing with Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi a visit to Brussels, he opened himself to charges of making up European Union foreign policy on the hoof. But Italy's Prodi is determined that the groundbreaking invitation should go ahead, EU officials said on Friday, paving the way for Qadhafi's first visit to a European country since the EU downgraded relations as part of U.N. Security Council sanctions imposed since 1992. ``This is an invitation from Mr Prodi,'' said Portuguese Foreign Minister Jaime Gama, whose country took over the bloc's rotating presidency on January 1. ``I believe it clearly reflects above all Italy's particular sensitivity towards Libya.'' [Reuters]
Friday: 7 January, 2000: The European Commission has told EU member states in writing that it wants to pursue the prospect of inviting Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi to Brussels, a commission spokesman said Thursday. EU commission president Romano Prodi, who spoke to Qadhafi by telephone over the Christmas holidays, "is politically in favor of such a contact," spokesman Peter Guilford said. "But it is not yet clear if such a visit will happen, because it needs a formal invitation," and it remains to be decided if that invitation will be sent by the commission or by the European Union as a whole, Guilford said. Such a meeting would be a major diplomatic breakthrough for Qadhafi, as he seeks international respect after extraditing two suspects in the 1988 bombing of a US airliner over Scotland. [AFP]
Thursday: 6 January, 2000: The European Union said on Wednesday it had discussed the prospect of a groundbreaking meeting with Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi, but denied his assertion that Brussels had formally invited him. In a sign that relations between the 15-nation bloc and a country it once regarded as a pariah state are nudging forward, the EU said the idea of a meeting had come up during a Christmas telephone call from Qadhafi to European Commission President Romano Prodi. ``During the course of the conversation, the prospect of a high level contact was raised but the conversation did not go as far as to confirm a visit or an invitation, nor was a deadline discussed,'' a Commission spokesman said. [Reuters]
Thursday: 6 January, 2000: Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi has said he plans to visit the European Union's headquarters in Brussels soon for talks aimed at boosting relations between the African continent and Europe. ``A few days ago I received an invitation from the EU to visit it in Brussels. I will make the visit at the start of the millennium,'' Qadhafi said on Tuesday night on Libyan television monitored in Tunis. ``It will be an historical visit for relations between Africa and the European Union,'' he said. ``Europe is no longer colonialist.'' The visit would be Qadhafi's first to a European country since the EU downgraded diplomatic contacts with Tripoli as part of U.N. Security Council sanctions imposed since 1992 over the Lockerbie affair. [Reuters]
Thursday: 6 January, 2000: A U.S. congressional committee chairman has for the third time sought assurances from Secretary of State Madeleine Albright that Libya was not promised that senior officials would be immune from prosecution in the Lockerbie bombing case. The latest request by the chairman of the House of Representatives International Relations Committee, Benjamin Gilman, a New York Republican, came in a letter to Albright dated Dec. 23, 1999, and obtained by Reuters on Wednesday. The issue concerns a letter and annex that U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan sent to Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi last February that led to Libya's handover in April of two suspects in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in December 1988 that killed 270 people. [Reuters]
Tuesday: 4 January, 2000: Three Russian pilots captured by rebels in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) were handed over to the Russian ambassador in Tripoli on Saturday night, Libyan state radio reported on Monday. The radio, monitored in Tunis, quoted the ambassador as saying that the men's release had followed appeals by Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi. The radio did not say when the airmen had been captured or in what circumstances. [Reuters]
Tuesday: 4 January, 2000: Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Mussa said Monday that he and his Libyan counterpart Omar el-Muntasser would visit Khartoum shortly to discuss their joint bid to end the 16-year civil war in Sudan. The two top diplomats will meet with Sudanese officials "within hours" to discuss "the Egyptian-Libyan initiative which was accepted by the Sudanese government and opposition." Mussa told the press that he was carrying a message from Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to his Sudanese counterpart Omar el-Beshir, without disclosing its contents. [AFP]
Monday: 3 January, 2000: The U.S. Clinton administration is delaying until mid-January new rules to allow America's high-tech industry to sell even the most powerful data-scrambling technology overseas with almost no restrictions. The surprise move affords the government more time to consider criticism from industry groups and some members of Congress over a draft circulated last month of its proposed rules, which were denounced as still too restrictive. The administration has said it will still require companies to seek permission to sell the scrambling technology to a foreign government or military, and will maintain bans on selling to seven nations accused of terrorism: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Sudan, North Korea and Cuba. [AP]
Saturday: 1 January, 2000: From Iran to Morocco, it was the same reassuring story. Officials reported no Y2K problems to spook the Middle East's passage into the new millennium. Apart from some congested telephone networks as callers sent New Year greetings at midnight, the region's vital systems appeared to survive the millennium bug unscathed. The power blackouts, telecommunications disruptions and aviation disasters once predicted by doomsayers simply failed to materialise in an area some had seen as vulnerable. Oil, the life-blood of many Middle East economies, flowed normally through wells, pipelines, shipping lanes and refineries. Oil producers such as Libya, Iran, and Bahrain said all was well with their production, export and refining operations, though Turkey said on Friday it was re-setting the date on the computerised monitoring system on an Iraqi oil pipeline to 1995. [Reuters]
Saturday: 1 January, 2000: Public records released in London confirm that the British government rejected calls to intervene during the overthrow of King Idris of Libya by Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi thirty years ago. The public documents have been released after being sealed for thirty years in the British Public Record Office. They show that King Idris asked for British help in getting back into power after being ousted by Colonel Qadhafi in 1969 . The Foreign Secretary at the time, Michael Stewart, advised against it, warning that it would be dangerous and wrong for Britain to get involved. King Idris died in exile in Egypt in 1983. [BBC]
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