News and Views [ August 2000 ]

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Thursday, 31 August, 2000: A Libyan spy's long-awaited appearance at the Lockerbie trial is not likely to happen for another month. Defence and prosecution lawyers have been involved in heated discussions surrounding the possible appearance of Abdul-Majid Giaka. It is thought he will not take the stand until a new search has been completed of CIA files, which are said to have recorded Giaka's activities while he operated as a double agent. Documents already given to the defence reveal that Giaka, whose codename was P1, was paid a monthly salary of $1,000 (£666), but that his handlers were considering stopping payments unless he came up with more information on the Libyan Intelligence Services. The material also referred to Giaka's apparent opposition to the Qadhafi regime in Libya and stated he was a distant relation of King Idris, who was deposed by Colonel Qadhafi in a military coup in 1969. [BBC]
Thursday, 31 August, 2000: French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine said Wednesday that France will continue the process of normalizing relations with Libya, which has helped arrange the release of three French hostages by the Philippine Muslim rebels. In an interview with the daily Le Figaro, Vedrine said that the process of normalization of relations between Libya and the European Union (EU) began one and a half years ago when the United Nations suspended its sanctions against Libya after Tripoli agreed to hand over the suspects in the 1988 bombing of a Pan-Am passenger plane. "The Africans, the Arabs, the Mediterraneans all wish that Libya returns to the international scene because they think it will help strengthen the new foreign policy of Libya," he said. He also said that France will invite Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi to attend an EU-Mediterranean summit to be held in Marseilles, if such a summit can be realized. [Xinhua]
Thursday, 31 August, 2000: Libya is to give Lebanon 5,000 tonnes of oil under an agreement aimed at strengthening relations between Tripoli and Beirut, Libyan foreign ministry spokesman Hassuna Shaush told AFP Wednesday. The deal also provides for Lebanon to buy Libyan fertiliser, while Libya will purchase 15,000 tonnes of Lebanese apples and an unspecified quantity of tobacco. In June Libya lifted a six-month suspension on visas for Lebanese visitors to Libya, while its ambassador offered Tripoli's help in rebuilding southern Lebanon after Israel ended its 22-year occupation. [AFP]
Wednesday, 30 August, 2000: Libya staged an elaborate ceremony on Tuesday to formally hand over six Westerners freed after being held hostage in the Philippines for more than four months. Libyan negotiator Rajab Azzarouq, basking in the positive publicity generated by Libya's role in the release, pledged that Libya would continue its efforts to win freedom for seven others still detained by Moslem Abu Sayyaf rebels. "We promise you with the supervision of the Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi and support of his son Seif al-Islam that we will pursue our efforts to free the remaining hostages, said Azzarouq, speaking at the ceremony on the outskirts of Tripoli. "Don't forget the name of Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi... It's the name of the man who freed you," added a spokesman for the Qadhafi International Foundation for Charity Associations, which negotiated the release. [Reuters]
Wednesday, 30 August, 2000: Libya is ready to mediate for the release of an American whom the Islamist rebel group Abu Sayyaf says it captured in the Philippines Monday, Libyan foreign ministry official Hassuna al-Shaush said Tuesday. "I don't think that the Qadhafi Charitable Foundation would sneak away if its help were requested by the United States," Shaush said of the Libyan organization that has conducted negotiations to free western and Philippine hostages from the Abu Sayyaf. "Saving the life of a human being, be he European or American, is important to the Foundation," he said. "We are teaching the world how to behave," he said. [AFP]
Wednesday, 30 August, 2000: A senior Conoco executive said on Tuesday he was hopeful that a gradual improvement in U.S. relations with Libya and Iran would lead eventually to a lifting of unilateral U.S. sanctions that prohibit U.S. investment in both countries' oil industries. Rob McKee, Conoco's executive vice president for exploration and production, said there were already signs that relations with Libya had started to thaw since that country handed over two suspects for trial in the 1988 bombing of a U.S. airliner. ``We believe that the attitude of the U.S. government is going to continue to lead to relaxation of the sanctions (against Libya) before long,'' he told energy reporters in Houston. [Reuters]
Wednesday, 30 August, 2000: The judges hearing the Lockerbie trial have refused a defence request to ask the US Government to help secure the release of more secret CIA documents. Lawyers for the two Libyans accused demanded the release of all the information held by the CIA relating to the activities of Abdul Majid Giaka, who has been cited as a witness for the prosecution, between 1988 and 1991. They wanted a US judge to determine what details could be withheld in the interests of national security. The request from defence counsel Richard Keen QC emerged following lengthy legal argument at the Scottish court in the Netherlands. His colleague, Bill Taylor QC, told the court that it had become apparent through reading the documents that other telegrams existed and he said they wanted to see the full complement. The three judges rejected Mr Keen's motion which would have involved formal "letters of request" being sent to the US government. [BBC]
Wednesday, 30 August, 2000: - Libya's minister for African affairs, Ali Triki, and the Egyptian foreign minister, Amr Moussa, are to meet with Sudanese government officials in September to re-launch their efforts to broker national reconciliation in the civil-war rocked country. According to official sources in Tripoli, the decision to revive the initiative was decided during recent meeting of the Executive Council of the Community of Sahelo-Saharan States, which was held in Asmara, Eritrea. The sources said the Sudanese foreign minister, Mustapha Osman Ismail, would attend the forthcoming meeting. Triki met with Ismail in Khartoum Monday to discuss the Libyan plan to revive the national reconciliation initiative. [PANA]
Wednesday, 30 August, 2000: The French foreign minister thanked the Philippines and Libya Tuesday for working to free six western hostages as the Cooperation Minister Charles Josselin arrived in Tripoli to greet the former hostages. "We thank the Philippines but also Libya for what they did to obtain this liberation, but I repeat that what we want is the freedom of all the hostages," Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine said on Europe 1 radio station in France. He stressed that Paris had not paid a ransom for the three French hostages, released with three others on Sunday and Monday by the Muslim group Abu Sayyaf in Jolo Island, as this would only increase the risk of kidnappings in the world's trouble-spots. [AFP]
Wednesday, 30 August, 2000: Testimony from a former CIA double agent was delayed Tuesday in the Lockerbie bombing trial after defense lawyers alleged that the spy agency may be concealing evidence on the explosion. Judges ordered Scotland's chief prosecutor to ``use his best endeavors'' with the CIA to obtain the missing information before they call the spy - their star witness - to the stand. The decision came despite warnings it could impede the trial of the two Libyans. ``The practical effect of granting the request would be a delay of perhaps a considerable period of time,'' Scotland's chief prosecutor, Lord Advocate Colin Boyd, told the court. Boyd suggested the witness, identified as Abdul Majid Giaka, who was initially scheduled to testify on Aug. 22, may not appear until next week. [AP]

Tuesday, 29 August, 2000: A plane carrying six former hostages traveled to Libya on Monday for an extraordinary welcome by Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi. The Libyan strongman earned unprecedented international thanks for persuading Filipino rebels to release the group. The plane left Cebu, Philippines on Monday and landed in the United Arab Emirates for refueling in the afternoon. After an overnight rest, it traveled on toward Libya. Hours after the hostages were released, a radio station in the southern Philippines quoted a spokesman for the Abu Sayyaf rebels as saying the group had abducted an American. The spokesman, Abu Sabaya, told the Radio Mindanao Network Tuesday that the man's name was Jeffrey Craig Schilling and that he was kidnapped Monday near a shopping mall in southern Zamboanga city and taken to Jolo. The rebels also claimed that he was a CIA agent. [AP]
Tuesday, 29 August, 2000: Libya is making maximum use of its expensive investment in a mediating role in the Philippine hostage crisis to boost the international profile of its controversial leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi. The Libyan publicity machine went into high gear with the release on Sunday and Monday of six Western hostages among more than two dozen captives held by Muslim rebels on the southern island of Jolo -- reportedly for six million dollars in ransom. Libya's help, aimed at currying favor with Europe, was somewhat spoiled by three major French newspapers on Monday with a report that the father of Sonia Wendling, one of three French nationals released by Abu Sayyaf gunmen, was himself held against his will in Libya nearly 20 years ago. Jean Wendling had his passport seized and was held for five days in a hotel room in Tripoli, when he was head of a French bottled gas company in 1980, according to Le Figaro, Le Parisien and France-Soir. [AFP]
Tuesday, 29 August, 2000: The German government was fulsome in its praise for Libya's role in helping free the Philippines hostages, but took pains Monday not to be seen according it full diplomatic rehabilitation. Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder warmly thanked Colonel Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi and his officials who have acted as intermediaries in securing the release of the hostages. Schroeder said: "Great thanks are certainly due to the Libyan government and the foundation headed by the son of the Libyan president (Seif al-Islam). "They contributed largely to making this outcome possible." "I can say that without the intervention of Mr Qadhafi and that of his son and this foundation, it would indeed not have been possible." But pressed as to the significance of such strong and rare praise for the regime in Tripoli by the chancellor, a foreign ministry spokeswoman insisted that Schroeder had expressed no more than was due in the circumstances. He "did nothing other than that to be done, that is to say, thank those who played an undeniable role" in the freeing of the six hostages, the spokeswoman said. [AFP]
Tuesday, 29 August, 2000: The only daughter of Libyan leader, Col. Mu'ammer al-Qadhafi, is in Uganda to attend the give-away ceremony of President Yoweri Museveni daughter, Natasha Kaneimbabazi. The Monitor has learnt that Aysha Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi, who arrived at Entebbe International Airport yesterday afternoon, was received by minister of Information, Basoga Nsadhu. Nsadhu confirmed Aysha Qadhafi's presence in Uganda last evening. "I received Col. Qadhafi's daughter and she's now at State House, Nakasero. She has come to attend the wedding of President Museveni's daughter," Nsadhu told The Monitor. [The Monitor]
Tuesday, 29 August, 2000: Gambian foreign minister Momoudou Sedat Jobe is in Libya to strengthen bilateral ties between the two countries. Speaking on arrival in Tripoli, he recalled the close links between the two countries and stressed the importance of the African Union, initiated by Libya leader Col. Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi. The minister praised Qadhafi's efforts at forging African unity and building a strong continent capable of facing future challenges. [PANA]
Tuesday, 29 August, 2000: Malian President Alpha Oumar Konare is expected Tuesday in Tripoli for a three-day working visit to Libya. Official sources said Konare would hold talks with Libyan leader Col. Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi, the major initiator of the African Union Treaty, which Mali was the first country to ratify. The treaty was adopted by the July summit of the OAU in Lome, Togo. Mali and Libya also belong to the Community of Saharan-Sahelian States. [PANA]
Tuesday, 29 August, 2000: Wrangling over potentially crucial and highly sensitive CIA documents forced another adjournment to the Lockerbie bombing trial on Monday, further delaying testimony by a Libyan former double agent. The impasse came amid striking CIA openness towards the case. Chief prosecutor Lord Advocate Colin Boyd, told the court the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency had allowed the parties to see more information than it had ever before revealed to a foreign court. "It does appear regrettable, but we feel we have little choice," said presiding judge Lord Sutherland in adjourning the trial until Tuesday, when he hoped the matter would "finally be dealt with". Defence lawyers at the trial, being held under Scottish law in the Netherlands, appeared to have got their way last week when they insisted the CIA reveal information in cables from Malta to its headquarters in the United States. [Reuters]
Monday, 28 August, 2000: Libya's Qadhafi Foundation welcomed Sunday the release of five hostages being held in the Philippines and said it would carry on working to free the rest. "We are very pleased at the release of the five hostages", a spokesman for the foundation headed by Seif al-Islam Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi said. "We are going to continue our mediation for the liberation of the other hostages, and we hope to bring it about soon," the spokesman added. [AFP]
Monday, 28 August, 2000: Libya's Qadhafi Foundation may have achieved only partial success with Sunday's release of five out of 12 western hostages held by Filipino Muslim separatists, but it pledged to get the rest out as soon as possible. "Contacts are continuing for the release of the other hostages as soon as possible," said a statement from the foundation. The foundation, which has been closely involved in mediation efforts for the release of the hostages held in the southern Philippines added in its statement that it has "taken the necessary measures to evacuate (the five freed hostages) to Tripoli as they make their way back to their homes," without specifying the date of their expected arrival in the Libyan capital. [AFP]
Monday, 28 August, 2000: The release of five western captives by Muslim extremists in the Philippines brought an agonising four-month international hostage crisis closer to resolution Sunday -- but the controversy over Libya's involvement is just beginning. A portrait of Qadhafi rose triumphantly above the heads of five freed hostages as they arrived in the southern city of Zamboanga on Sunday. Embarrassed Filipino security officials promptly pounced on the man bearing the large picture and hustled him away. "The feeling is excellent," Libyan ambassador to Manila Salem Adam said. "The image of our leader Qadhafi is held in high esteem." The gunmen still hold seven westerners and 17 Filipinos whom they said they would release within a week. [AFP]
Monday, 28 August, 2000: Former British secret service agent David Shayler said on Sunday he would ask police to investigate the government's role in ignoring an alleged MI6 plot to murder Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi. Shayler, 34, was arrested and charged with breaking the Official Secrets Act when he returned to Britain on August 21 after three years of self-imposed exile in France. Writing in the Observer newspaper on Sunday, he said the government's failure to bring to justice two officers from MI6 whom he accused of plotting to murder Qadhafi was the action of dictators. "It is corruption, it is sleaze," he said. "It is not only an abuse of power, it is an insult to those who respect the rule of law, including the vast majority of the British public." [Reuters]
Sunday, 27 August, 2000: Senior lawyers defending the two Libyans accused of the Lockerbie bombing will earn at least £500,000 each. Their pay has been a source of speculation since the trial began in May. But informed sources have revealed that senior counsel will receive about £3,800 for each day spent in court - £19,000 a week. When they are not in court but preparing the defence case they get £1,800 a day - £9,000 a week. The rates are many times higher than the normal daily court rate for criminal QCs in Scottish courts. This ranges from £315 a day for cases in Edinburgh to £510 a day for cases in Aberdeen, Inverness and Dumfries, the latter sum allowing for travel and accommodation. [The Times]
Saturday, 26 August, 2000: Britain and the United States on Friday released the text of a letter that U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan sent to Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi in February 1999 saying the suspects in the Lockerbie airliner bombing would "not be used to undermine the Libyan regime." The letter was sent a few weeks before the two suspects were handed over for trial before a Scottish court now sitting in the Netherlands. The annexe to Annan's letter said: "There is no intention to interview them (the two accused) or to allow them to be interviewed, about any issue not related to the trial." It continues, "There will be no deviation from Scottish law which provides that the two persons have the right to refuse to see any police or intelligence officers. The two persons will not be used to undermine the Libyan regime." The Scottish Lord Advocate has given assurances that Annan's letter does not inhibit him in any way in the prosecution of the case and that he had a duty to pursue any evidence that came to light. [Reuters]
Saturday, 26 August, 2000: South African President Thabo Mbeki has commended Libya for its recent efforts to secure the release of hostages being held by armed rebels of the Abou Sayyef Islamic group in the Philippine island of Jolo. Mbeki, in a congratulatory message to Libyan leader Col. Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi, particularly expressed gratitude to the Qadhafi Foundation of charity associations for obtaining the release of South African citizens. Other hostages were Lebanese, Finish, Germans and French citizens. Mbeki assured Qadhafi of his country's backing of Libya's efforts to promote peace and development in the southern Philippines region. [PANA]
Saturday, 26 August, 2000: Fresh versions of classified CIA documents have been handed over to defence lawyers at the Lockerbie trial. But lawyers for the two accused Libyans have asked for more time to consider the controversial telegrams concerning a key prosecution witness. They say it could take them a week to pore over the documents - which still have some deletions. And this could further delay prosecution efforts to call Abdul Majid Giaka, who is expected to give vital evidence on the events at Malta Airport, from where the suitcase containing the bomb is alleged to have been despatched. [BBC]
Saturday, 26 August, 2000: Muslim rebels threatened to call off a deal to free six hostages after police arrested two men carrying bundles of money believed to be part of a ransom payment, officials said Friday. The two suspected Abu Sayyaf rebels were arrested Thursday while trying to convert $240,000 into Philippine pesos at a bank in the city of Zamboanga, police said. The expected release last week of the 12 remaining foreign hostages fell through when Libya, which is playing a prominent role in the negotiations, offered only $700,000 per captive instead of the $1 million demanded by the guerrillas. The rebels agreed to release some hostages Saturday after Libya agreed to pay the full amount, negotiators said. [AP]
Friday, 25 August, 2000: Libya has indicated that it wants to re-establish relations with the United States, which were broken off nearly twenty years ago. In an interview with the French news agency, a Libyan Foreign Ministry official, Hasuna Shaush, said that a normalisation of relations would have a positive effect for the Middle East region and the world. He said the two countries could make a new start through dialogue and mutual interest. In a reference to Libya's recently improving relations with Europe, Mr Shaush said that the United States must realize the importance of Libya, just as European countries had. [BBC]
Friday, 25 August, 2000: Lawyers defending two Libyans in the Lockerbie airliner bombing trial on Thursday attempted to paint a picture of lax baggage controls at Heathrow airport in the late 1980s. On the 43rd day of the trial, being held under Scottish law at a former U.S. airbase in the Netherlands, ex-Pan Am employees were cross-examined over security at the London hub by a defence trying to show that the fatal bomb could have been loaded onto Pan Am flight 103 there. Under questioning from defence counsel Jack Davidson, former Pan Am employees admitted that at times luggage at Heathrow lay around unattended in transit sheds, records were contradictory and one passenger who had checked two bags onto the ill-fated flight 103 failed to board before it took off. [Reuters]
Friday, 25 August, 2000: The CIA last night appeared to be meeting a request to provide classified intelligence papers to lawyers acting for the two Libyans accused of the Lockerbie bombing. Discussions between the Lord Advocate, Colin Boyd, QC, and officers of the CIA had resulted in "good progress" towards disclosure of the documents, the Scottish court in the Netherlands heard yesterday. If there are no further problems over the papers, one of the prosecution's main witnesses, Abdul Majid Giaka, an alleged Libyan-US double agent, should begin his evidence next week. The court has heard that Giaka, a member of the Libyan intelligence services who was working in Malta, began to provide information to the CIA in the months before the Lockerbie bombing in December 1988. It was said his "handler" on Malta sent telegrams to the CIA in Washington DC, outlining the information, but only heavily-edited versions had been supplied for the trial. On Tuesday, defence lawyers complained of unfairness after discovering that one of the prosecution team had been given access to the full texts.
[The Scotsman]
Thursday, 24 August, 2000: One of the world's largest construction projects, Libya's great manmade river, is facing difficulties, ten years after it came on tap. The project was designed to drill ground water from beneath the Sahara desert and pipe it to Libyan towns. But a BBC correspondent in Libya says that after spending over ten billion dollars on the project, work has begun on only two of the five branches and of those, one is running only twenty percent capacity and the other has begun to leak. The project's general manager says it is unclear who is to be blamed; the Libyans themselves, the British designers or the South Korean constructors. [BBC]
Thursday, 24 August, 2000: A Libyan secret agent turned CIA informer is now due to give evidence in the Lockerbie trial next Monday, the court has heard. Abdul-Majid Giaka, 40, had been expected to take the stand on Wednesday. He is regarded as a "star" witness for the prosecution. But prosecutor Alastair Campbell QC said Majid would appear on Monday, allowing time for defence lawyers to study uncensored versions of CIA cables from Malta. He is expected to testify that he saw the accused in Malta on December 21, 1988 when a bomb hidden in a suitcase was put on a Maltese airliner, tagged for transfer in Frankfurt onto Pan Am Flight 103. Majid lives in the United States under witness protection after defecting in 1991 from Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi's regime. [BBC]
Thursday, 24 August, 2000: The United States State Department on Wednesday morning registered its disapproval at the talk of paying ransom money for securing the release of hostages held by the Abu Sayyaf rebels in the southern Philippines. It added that Libya's actions would not win Tripoli any brownie points with the United States. Manila for its part, has relaxed its demand for the release of the 12 hostages in one go, and said it may now accept their release in batches. The rebels have refused to release all their hostages together, fearing a military offensive once their captives are free. [AFP]
Thursday, 24 August, 2000: Oil giant Royal Dutch/Shell is negotiating a number of exploration blocks in Libya, a company official said on Wednesday. "Following an invitation by (Libya's state-owned) National Oil Company, we are engaged with them in commercial discussions regarding a number of blocks," a Shell spokeswoman told Reuters. Shell's renewed interest in Libya almost nine years after pulling out became apparent when it attended an NOC presentation in Tripoli in May which outlined terms and acreage for an oil and gas exploration licensing round. [Reuters]
Thursday, 24 August, 2000: Having proven their ability to secure the release of Malaysians held captive by rebels in Jolo, Libyan negotiator Rajab Azzarouq has now requested assistance from Malaysian emissaries. This request was forwarded to Senator Datuk Sairin Karno who played a pivotal role in securing the release of Malaysian hostages abducted from Pulau Sipadan on April 23. "Azzarouq personally made the request just before we left Zamboanga for Kota Kinabalu yesterday with the remaining Malaysians," Sairin said. However, Sairin said he was prepared to assist only if the rebels preferred to deal with him and other Malaysian negotiators, and if there was an official request by the Philippine Government. [Yahoo]
Wednesday, 23 August, 2000: Defence lawyers at the Lockerbie bombing trial on Tuesday challenged key prosecution evidence that U.S. investigators gathered from a Libyan secret service agent. Prosecutors plan to introduce a batch of cable communications between U.S. security service agents and Washington following interviews with Abdul Majid Giaka, a Libyan who defected shortly before the 1988 Lockerbie bombing. The cables may serve as vital evidence in the case against Al-Amin Fahima and Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, who are accused of posing as Libyan Arab Airlines employees at Malta's Luqa airport to put a suitcase bomb on a plane to Frankfurt. [Reuters]
Wednesday, 23 August, 2000: The tightly-controlled state media in Libya is maintaining a studied silence on the reopening of the Lockerbie trial in The Hague. This is in contrast to the 10 years of sanctions on Libya when the Lockerbie affair dominated the headlines. Satellite dishes sprout across Tripoli giving access to foreign outlets of news, but Libyans say it is too dangerous to comment. Most are anxious to forget the Lockerbie affair. They say whatever the outcome of the trial, they have already been punished. [BBC]
Wednesday, 23 August, 2000: Libya is reported to have agreed to raise an extra US$12 million ransom for the release of westerners among the 28 hostages held by the Abu Sayyaf rebels in the southern Philippines. An official in Philippine President Joseph Estrada's office said the money was believed to be on top of the US$25 million Libya had pledged in development aid to Jolo island. The rebels had backed off on the release of the remaining hostages last weekend, citing fears of a military attack as the main reason. But government sources have said, a dispute over ransom payments between the rebels and top Libyan negotiator Rajab Azzarouq, is the real culprit. Meanwhile, preparations for further talks continue. [Yahoo]
Wednesday, 23 August, 2000: Libya has approved a secret deal proposed by Manila to woo Muslim extremists into freeing 28 hostages in the southern Philippines, officials said Tuesday. A Philippine government emissary was expected to deliver the formula, details of which were being kept under wraps, to the Abu Sayyaf gunmen holding 12 Westerners and 16 Filipinos on Jolo island, an aide to top negotiator Roberto Aventajado said. He said Libya's pointman in the negotiations with the Abu Sayyaf, Rajab Azzarouq, conveyed Tripoli's decision to Aventajado late Monday. Libya is reported to be providing the ransom money to the Muslim rebels, delivered either as cash or as aid to Islamic areas in the mainly Roman Catholic Philippines. [AFP]
Wednesday, 23 August, 2000: Burundian President Pierre Buyoya Sunday expressed scepticism that "there was no solid grounds" on which to base an agreement expected to be signed 28 August during the planned peace conference aimed at bringing together parties to the ongoing conflict in that country. Reporting a telephone conversation with Libyan leader Col. Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi, the Libyan news agency quoted Buyoya as saying that "in this context," the planned Arusha (Tanzania) conference "will reach no solution." Quoting official Libyan sources, it said Buyoya's view was that the conference would result in no more than "a simple press release because of divergences in the viewpoints put forth" by the parties involved in the conflict. [PANA]
Tuesday, 22 August, 2000: Philippine officials sought Libya's approval Monday for a new approach to talks with Muslim rebels after the separatists' last-minute refused to free 24 hostages last weekend. President Joseph Estrada decided on the strategy - which would not be made public until Libya responds - after talking with top negotiators, members of the negotiating team said. Chief government negotiator Robert Aventajado said the plan retains the president's ``all or nothing'' approach to the freeing of the captives, but other aspects were changed to resolve disagreements with the Abu Sayyaf rebels. Some believe the Abu Sayyaf group is demanding a larger ransom than Libya offered. The rebels have sought $1 million for each Westerner. [AP]
Tuesday, 22 August, 2000: The Philippines Monday blamed a row between a top Libyan negotiator and the Abu Sayyaf guerrillas for the Muslim extremists' refusal to release 28 hostages, as indications emerged of a dispute over ransom money. The Abu Sayyaf group insisted on 18 million dollars -- a million for each of the remaining nine Westerners, and three million dollars each for three French journalists captured later, they said. "The Libyan mediators brought only about four million dollars with them, leading Abu Sayyaf leaders to accuse Azzarouq of not fulfilling his promise," one source said. "It was not clear what the promise was." [AFP]
Monday, 21 August, 2000: Libyan Foreign Minister Abdel-Rahman Shalgam said Sunday that Libya was still trying to free hostages held by Muslim rebels in the Philippines. "Our efforts will continue," Shalgham told a press conference, adding, "European and international pressures is being brought on both sides (the Philippine government and the kidnappers) to bring about the end of this business." Libya was in contact with everyone concerned, Shalgam said. [AFP]
Monday, 21 August, 2000: The Qadhafi Charitable Foundation announced late Sunday that it would keep mediating to free the hostages in the Philippines, despite its earlier threat to halt its efforts. The foundation, headed by Seif al-Islam the son of Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi, had earlier warned: "If there is no positive and concrete development in the next 48 hours, it (the foundation) will pull out of negotiations." Muslim separatist Abu Sayyaf rebels are holding 28 hostages on the southern Philippine island of Jolo. [AFP]
Monday, 21 August, 2000: The Philippine government has dismissed a threat by Libya to withdraw from mediating in a four-month long hostage crisis, saying they can pull out anytime they wish, chief negotiator Roberto Aventajado told AFP Sunday. "This offer was made voluntarily, they can withdraw their help anytime they wish," Aventajado said by telephone from Zamboanga city near Jolo island where the hostages are being held. The Qadhafi Charity Organisation, led by a son of Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi, issued a 48-hour ultimatum to Manila after the Abu Sayyaf Muslim extremist group holding 28 hostages in the southern Philippines abruptly cancelled a planned release on Saturday. [AFP]
Sunday, 20 August, 2000: The Libyan organisation involved in negotiations for the release of hostages held in Jolo, in the Philippines, issued a 48-hour ultimatum to the Manila goverment Saturday threatening to end its mediation. The Qadhafi Charity Organisation, headed by Seif al-Islam son of the Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi, warned in a statement that "after leading the last attempt with the Philippines government, if there is no positive and concrete development in the next 48 hours, it will pull out of negotiations (with the kidnappers from the Islamist Abu Sayyaf group). The withdrawal will also concern the group's "officials present in the Philippines since the beginning of the crisis, its plane and the medical team in place for more than a week" to bring the hostages to Tripoli after their release, the statement said. [AFP]
Sunday, 20 August, 2000: A chartered Libyan aircraft which landed in Cebu city Saturday expecting to pick up Western hostages released after months in captivity was to return empty to Manila after negotiations collapsed at the 11th hour. An aide to Roberto Aventajado, the chief government negotiator in the four-month hostage crisis, said the Russian-made plane would return to Manila following the setback in talks with the Abu Sayyaf guerrillas. The Libyan aircraft had been under tight guard since arriving here at the General Benito Ebuen Airbase in central Cebu city on Saturday. [AFP]
Sunday, 20 August, 2000: A high level delegation of Libyan Arab Airlines (LAA) headed by its Technical Director/Manager Training, Masood Ghaffar, on Friday visited the PIA Training Centre in Karachi, Pakistan. The three-day visit came at the invitation of Principal PTC to discuss the training needs of LAA employees. Besides the Training centre, the LAA delegation also visited Engineering and Maintenance shops facilities for on-line jobs training. At the end of delegation's three-day visit, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed with PIA to provide training to LAA personnel. [APP]
Sunday, 20 August, 2000: Lebanese Water Resources Minister Soleiman Traboulsi, who came to Libya to greet a released Franco-Lebanese hostage Marie-Michele Moarbes, announced Saturday he was leaving after negotiations with her captors in the Philippines collapsed. "The situation is the following: the release of the hostages has been postponed until a later date," said Traboulsi, adding that he will leave Libya on Sunday. "Time is required to negotiate and overcome the difficulties that have arisen," he said. Moarbes's mother, who is also in Libya, said she would leave with the minister. [AFP]
Sunday, 20 August, 2000: A big cake, red and white roses, mountains of food and a welcome party on board a jet would have greeted 12 Western hostages had they been freed Saturday by Muslim guerrillas from a Philippine jungle. Last-minute snags, however, caused negotiators to fail to win the release of the foreigners along with 12 Filipino hostages who have been held by the guerrillas on the impoverished southern island of Jolo. A Russian Ilyushin plane acquired by Libya was waiting at Cebu airport in the Philippines to take the 12 Western hostages to Tripoli to meet with Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi. ``There was supposed to have been a big celebration on board,'' said a diplomat who was to have traveled with the hostages to Tripoli. ``Of course, everybody was disappointed.'' [AP]

Saturday, 19 August, 2000: Top Abu Sayyaf guerrillas holding hostages in the southern Philippines have demanded asylum in Libya, fearing they will be hunted down by the military when they release their captives, officials were quoted as saying Friday.Ghalib "Commander Robot" Andang and Mujib Susukan want to board a Libyan flight out of the Philippines, the Philippine Star said quoting sources close to the official negotiating panel. The development came as sources close to the negotiations said that the Muslim extremists freed three Malaysian hostages. [AFP]
Saturday, 19 August, 2000: Libya expects all the hostages held in the Philippines to be released by Sunday at the latest, a foreign ministry spokesman said here Friday. "All of the hostages will be freed," Hasuna al-Shaush told reporters. Shaush also said Libya has received no requests for political asylum from members of Abu Sayyaf, the Islamist group that is holding 28 Western and Filipino hostages in the southern Philippines. Two leaders of the separatist group had asked Libya for asylum, fearing Manila's military would strike them as soon as the hostages were released, Filipino officials were quoted by the press as saying earlier. [AFP]
Saturday, 19 August, 2000: Libya has agreed to pay $25 million as the price for the release of hostages held by Moslem rebels in the Philippines, a Western diplomat told reporters on Friday. "The Libyans would pay this $25 million and there is a deal on that," the diplomat said without elaborating as to whether the amount was direct ransom to the kidnappers or part of aid reportedly to be funneled through a Libyan charitable foundation to finance development projects in the Philippines.The Western diplomat said Libya was willing to provide the money in order to win publicity for its role and ensure European Union backing for it to attend a European Mediterranean summit in November. "Libya wants to participate in the European Mediterranean summit," the Western diplomat said. [FOX]
Saturday, 19 August, 2000: In a sign that Turkey and Libya are trying to improve bilateral relations, Turkish Foreign Ministry on Friday evaluated as "successful" a Turkish parliamentary delegation's recent visit to Libya. The delegation from Turkey-Libya Parliamentary Friendship Group concluded its five-day visit to Libya on Friday. During the visit, Libyan President Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi sent a goodwill and friendship message to Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer. Libya's Secretary for External Relations and International Cooperation Abdel-Rahman Shalgham also invited Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit and Foreign Minister Ismail Cem to visit Libya. Diplomatic sources said these are important steps taken to overcome problems between the two countries. [Xinhua]
Saturday, 19 August, 2000: Libiria's Vice President Moses Z. Blah says his government is satisfied with the "people to people" diplomacy the government of Libya is playing in the face of international isolation against Liberia. Mr. Blah spoke yesterday at his Capitol Hill office when the Libyan envoy, Mohammed Talbi presented him a set of computers and accessories as a gesture from his government. Vice President Blah said the Libyan envoy had been a good friend to him for a long time and that he was not surprised at his worth. He named the renovation of schools and health centers around the country as a clear demonstration of the Libyan government's willingness to contribute to the national reconstruction of Liberia. [Africa News]
Saturday, 19 August, 2000: While a Libyan jet waits in the Philippines preparing for the triumphant return of western hostages, here in the Libyan capital residents know next to nothing about the international situation their government is working to defuse.None of Libya's six publications or its radio and television stations -- all of which are run by the government -- have mentioned Tripoli's diplomacy to free 28 hostages held in the southern Philippines. Libyans stopped on the street seemed to know nothing of the Libyan jet that has waited in Tripoli since Monday, nor of the involvement in negotiations of a charity run by Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi's son, nor of the potential international benefits to Libya if its efforts are successful. "The blackout is normal in this country, where there is never any information on anything. Even if an airplane leaves the Philippines with hostages on board, they won't know," said a diplomat here. The only Libyans who know about Kadhafi's intervention are those who own satellite dishes or computers, giving them access to foreign media. But even Libyans in the know seem disinterested in the plight of hostages being held thousands of miles away. "Freedom would be great for the hostages. But they're using our money (for a ransom payment) and are doing this to put more of the limelight on Libya," said one young woman, who refused to give her name. [AFP]

Friday, 18 August, 2000: The Qadhafi Charitable Foundation -- not the Libyan government -- has been mediating with kidnappers to free all 31 hostages on the Philippine island of Jolo, a foundation official told AFP Thursday. "Our foundation is leading the mediation and the Libyan state has no connection with this case," said the official of the organization headed by Seif al-Islam, son of Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi. "The mediation concerns all the hostages, not just the French. The lives of human beings, whether they are French or hold other nationality, cannot be the object of bargaining," said the official, who asked not to be identified. [AFP]
Friday, 18 August, 2000: The head of the Italian government, Juliano Amato, has told Libyan leader, Col. Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi, that he was "very pleased" over the positive development of relations both countries. The Libyan news agency, JANA, reporting a telephone conversation between the two leaders Wednesday, said Amato declared that cooperation between Libya and Italy was on a smooth footing. He stressed the Italian government's commitment to respect the terms of the joint declaration, signed in July 1998, which has considerably contributed in improving relations between the two countries. [PANA]
Friday, 18 August, 2000: European tourists, including two Germans, being held by Moslem rebels in the Philippines could arrive in the Libyan capital of Tripoli any time from Saturday onward, a senior German official said on Thursday. Cornelius Sommer, the Berlin government's Asian affairs adviser, told reporters in Tripoli that bad weather and continuing negotiations on the fate of three French journalists appeared to be holding up the Libyan-brokered release of 16 hostages being held by the Abbu Sayyaf rebels. Sommer was in Libya expecting to escort home German teacher Werner Wallert and his 25-year-old son Marc. [Reuters]
Thursday, 17 August, 2000: Libya, which is paying millions of dollars to free nine Westerners held hostage by Muslim rebels for four months, wants the captives to meet with Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi on their release. The release of the nine from remote Jolo island had been expected on Wednesday, but ``minor hitches'' forced a delay until at least Thursday, Philippine negotiator Roberto Mananquil said Tuesday.A chartered plane from Libya was waiting in Manila to pick up the hostages, who were part of a group of 21 people kidnapped in April from Malaysia's Sipadan diving resort by Abu Sayyaf rebels. Planes chartered by Libya were ferrying officials and scores of journalists from Lebanon and South Africa to Tripoli, where the hostages were to be flown after their release to meet with Qadhafi. [AP]

Wednesday, 16 August, 2000: Libya Tuesday denied United States allegations that it had threatened witnesses called by the Scottish court trying two Libyans suspected of masterminding the mid-air bombing of a PanAm passenger plane over Lockerbie, Scotland, in December 1988. A government spokesman described the American allegation as a strategy aimed a influencing the trend of the trial and hinder the search for the truth required in order to render justice for the two suspects and to the bereaved families. The spokesman of the Scottish court has also denied that Libya had threate ned witnesses. [PANA]
Wednesday, 16 August, 2000: France has asked Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi to mediate the negotiations between the Philippine government and Muslim rebels on the release of a dozen hostages taken by the rebels last April, reported the local popular weekly Canard Enchaine in its latest issue dated Wednesday. Three French hostages are among the group of tourists who were taken hostage by Philippine Muslim rebels of Abu Sayyaf in April. Canard Enchaine quoted its sources as saying that France has asked Libya to pay for the ransom to the hostage takers and will in exchange help Libya break its diplomatic isolation. [Xinhua]
Wednesday, 16 August, 2000: Libya's Colonel Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi has come to the rescue of westerners held hostage in the Philippines as part of his attempt to win acceptance by the West which long branded him as a pariah, analysts say. Months of negotiations with the radical Muslim Aabu Sayyaf group appeared to be on the brink of bearing fruit Tuesday, with 14 hostages, nine of them from western Europe or South Africa, expected to be freed soon. The two Finns, two Germans, two French, two South Africans and a Franco-Lebanese woman, would be flown aboard a Libyan plane from Jolo in the Philippines to Tripoli, to be handed over to representatives of their respective countries. [AFP]
Wednesday, 16 August, 2000: Officials from Lebanon and South Africa landed in Tripoli on Tuesday amid signs that western hostages held in the Philippines would soon be freed under a Libyan-brokered deal and flown to Tripoli. But the chief negotiator for the Filipino government, Roberto Aventajado, said the kidnappers from the Islamic separatist group Abu Sayyaf would not release 14 hostages Wednesday, as he had previously announced. "There will be no release tomorrow" because of a "minor hitch," an Aventajado aide told reporters Tuesday. A Libyan jet has been on standby at Manila airport since Monday ready to fly out the hostages at a moment's notice. [AFP]
Tuesday, 15 August, 2000: A key negotiator said Monday that Muslim rebels holding Westerners and Asians in a Philippine jungle will release nine hostages within two days. Chief government negotiator Robert Aventajado didn't say who would be released by the Abu Sayyaf rebels, who have demanded $1 million for each Western hostage. "There is a breakthrough," he said. "It's OK now." A chartered plane from Libya, which has helped in the negotiations, arrived in Manila late Monday to transport the hostages, who were kidnapped in April from a Malaysian diving resort. The plane will take the hostages to Libya, and from there they will travel to their own countries, negotiators said. Libya is reported to be shouldering all the costs of the release, including an unspecified ransom payment. [AP]
Tuesday, 15 August, 2000: A Libyan mediator returned empty-handed after talks on Monday with Abu Sayyaf Muslim extremists who are holiding 17 hostages at their southern Philippines hideout. Speculations had been rife that the jungle trip by Rajab Azzarouq, Libya's retired ambassador to Manila, would result in the release of at least a few of the captives after reported intervention by Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi. Azzarouq told reporters he spoke with an Abu Sayyaf leader he identified as Abu Sabri over the fate of three French journalists who were abducted five weeks ago. "I met with Abu Sabri about the status of the journalists," he said without giving details. [AFP]
Tuesday, 15 August, 2000: Libyan Ambassador to Liberia Mohammed Omar Talbi says the Libyan Government remains committed to bilateral relations with Liberia. The Libyan diplomat made the assertion over the weekend when he turned over the recently renovated Arthington Public School to the Liberian Government through the Ministry of Education. The renovation was funded by the Libyan Government. Turning over the building, Ambassador Talbi said "We have continued to reaffirm our commitment to the excellent relations between our two countries by supporting fundamental development and progress of Liberia." [The News]
Monday, 14 August, 2000: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, on a tour of all OPEC member states, called for solidarity within the oil cartel during a meeting Sunday with Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi. Chavez, who arrived in Tripoli at dawn after a visit to Indonesia, spoke with Qadhafi about international issues of common interest and called for OPEC nations' "solidarity to face certain countries' attempts to lower prices," the officials said. The Venezuelan president, whose country holds the rotating residency of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, isvisiting all the cartel's members in preparation for a summit to be held in Caracas in September, to mark OPEC's 40th anniversary. [AFP]
Sunday, 13 August, 2000: Despite signs of Libyan activity, Libyan envoy Saturday denied reports that Libya offered $25 million to free European and Asian hostages of a Muslim rebel group in the southern Philippines. Rajab Azzarouq, Libya's former ambassador to the Philippines, responded to recent reports out of Beirut. "There is no truth to that. Our offer, which we talked about, is a socio-economic package for livelihood projects," said Azzarouq, who has been involved in negotiations to free the captives held by the Abu Sayyaf rebels on Jolo Island. The chief government negotiator, Robert Aventajado, also denied the reports. Libya has been involved in livelihood projects for Muslim communities in the southern Philippines, he pointed out. [AP]

Saturday, 12 August, 2000: A Lebanese official was making an unscheduled visit to Libya Saturday in a strong indication that a Lebanese-French woman held by Philippine Muslim rebels may soon be released following mediation by Tripoli, sources said. The sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, would not speculate on the purpose of the trip to Tripoli by Minister of Hydraulics Resources Suleiman Traboulsi. However, the unscheduled visit comes a week after a Lebanese newspaper reported that Libya was engaged in negotiations with the Abu Sayyaf kidnappers for the release of Lebanese-born Marie Moarbes, who has been held since April. [AP]
Friday, 11 August, 2000: The United States warned Libya not to intimidate witnesses when the Lockerbie trial resumes, saying it could jeopardise Libya's attempts to have U.N. sanctions lifted permanently. The trial of two Libyan men, accused of blowing up a U.S. airline over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in 1988, resumes in a Scottish court in the Netherlands on Aug. 22. The bombing killed 270 people. "We do think the Pan Am 103 trial must proceed in an environment that's free of threats or intimidation," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher told a daily briefing. Boucher said he did not mean that anyone had interfered so far in the trial, which opened in May. "But we have noted that cooperation with the trial is one of the remaining preconditions for lifting of sanctions. That means, of course, not interfering with the trial or the witnesses in any way," he added. [Reuters]
Thursday, 10 August, 2000: Famous Libyan trekker Mohamed Bahar arrived in Addis Ababa early this week while cycling around the African continent in his effort to call for African unity, solidarity and development. Bahar, 47, kicked off his long-distance trek on June 16, the second of its kind since last year. He is due to travel 53 African countries except Somalia, and back to Libya in March 2001. Secretary-General Salim Ahmed Salim of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) met Bahar Tuesday, congratulating him on the unique initiative he has taken and on the practical manner in which he is demonstrating his commitment to African unity. [Xinhua]
Wednesday, 9 August, 2000: Italian Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini met in Tripoli Tuesday with Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi during a brief visit that included discussion of Libyan compensation claims for Italian colonialism. Dini discussed the compensation proposal with Libyan Foreign Minister Abdel-Rahman Shalgam, officials said. Dini said Italy was committed to projects in Libya, including the construction of a hospital for people with disabilities, the financing of agricultral projects and investment in Libya's electricity and tourism sectors. [AFP]
Wednesday, 9 August, 2000: The first Algerian Airways passenger plane landed in Tripoli Sunday after eight years following the UN embargo imposed on Libya over the alleged involvement of two of its citizens in the Lockerbie affair. The airline's managing director, Benoues Ben Chamman, and the chairman of the Algerian National Assembly's procurement and development committee, Tahar Khouiter, were among passengers on the inaugural flight. Algerian Airways became the third air company in the Arab Maghreb Union to resume flights to Libya, after Tunis Air and Royal Air Morocco which re-started theirs June. [PANA]

Tuesday, 8 August, 2000: Lebanese Prime Minister Salim Hoss on Sunday revealed that the Libyan government was working to help release Mary Michel Moarbes, one of the hostages held by Abu Sayyaf rebels in the southern Philippines. “We are grateful to Libya for making efforts to secure the release of Mary Moarbes. It is doing so with the knowledge and consent of the Lebanese government and we hope Libya’s efforts are successful,” Hoss said in a statement. The premier’s statement was released the same day a Libyan envoy denied reports that his country’s leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi offered $25 million for the release of dozens of hostages held by rebels in the southern Philippines. [AFP]
Monday, 7 August, 2000: Palestinian President Yasser Arafat held talks Sunday with Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi as part of efforts to drum up support for his stance in peace talks with Israel. Arafat met Qadhafi after his arrival from Gaza, Libyan state-run radio, monitored in Tunis, said. ``President Arafat briefed Qadhafi on the new developments in the Palestinian situation,'' the radio said, adding that Arafat left Tripoli after the meeting. [Reuters]
Monday, 7 August, 2000: A Lebanese diplomat in Manila denies local press reports Sunday that the Libyan government has offered 25 million U.S. dollars in ransom to Abu Sayyaf for the release of the hostages held in the southern Philippine province of Sulu. Lebanon's vice consul to Manila, Joseph Assad, said there is no truth in the reports that Seif Al-Islam, son of Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi, had sent an emissary to Manila to work out the deal. [Xinhua]
Monday, 7 August, 2000: Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi left Tunis by road Saturday returning to Tripoli at the end of a three-day "working and friendship visit". During the visit, Qadhafi and his host, President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali discussed issues related to bilateral cooperation and implementation of agreements signed between the two countries. Trade pacts between Libya and Tunisia are intended to boost the volume of commercial exchanges from a target of 700 million dollars this year to a billion dollars in the near future. [PANA]
Sunday, 6 August, 2000: Libya is ready to pay Philippine Muslim rebels $25 million in ransom to gain the release of 29 hostages, including a French woman of Arab origin, being held since April, a Lebanese newspaper reported Saturday. The leading Beirut daily An-Nahar said Seif al-Islam, Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi's son, sent an emissary to Manila to try for a deal. It said the envoy, Mohammed Ismail, contacted the Lebanese Embassy in Tokyo, Japan, and expressed "full readiness" to pay a ransom of $1 million to gain the release of Marie Moarbes, a Lebanese-French woman, as first priority. According to the report, which did not identify its sources, Ismail also told the Lebanese mission that Libya is willing to pay $24 million for the release of the remaining hostages, adding that in the case of release the men and women would be encouraged to visit Tripoli to thank the Qadhafis. [AP]

Saturday, 5 August, 2000: Libyan leader Col. Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi on Thursday called on Arab countries in Africa to unite, saying such a project was now essential, due to globalization. Qadhafi spoke during a visit to Tunisia aimed at strengthening ties between the two neighboring North African countries. The Libyan leader met Thursday with members of Tunisia's ruling Constitutional Democratic Rally, or RCD, and said Africa was a "natural space" for Arab countries. "The unitary state is an old-fashioned notion that does not allow countries to resolve their problems," Qadhafi said, revisiting themes he defended at a July summit of the Organization of African Unity. [CNN]
Saturday, 5 August, 2000: The Palestinian Authority said on Friday it would refuse to sign a peace deal with Israel unless all of East Jerusalem came under Palestinian rule as the capital of an independent Palestinian state. The fate of Jerusalem, which Israel calls its ``united and eternal'' capital, was the biggest stumbling block at last month's U.S.-sponsored Camp David peace summit which ended in failure after 15-days of intensive negotiations. Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said Arafat would visit Russia and Libya next week to drum up support for his stance at Camp David. Arafat has already visited nine countries since the summit collapsed. [Reuters]
Friday, 4 August, 2000: Lundin Oil AB announced that it has entered into a Joint Bidding Agreement with Edison Gas, the private Italian E&P, utilities and gas company within the Montedison Group, with a view to bid jointly on new areas offered by the Libyan National Oil Corporation (NOC). The new round covers approximately 70% of the country. It includes 112 onshore blocks and 20 offshore blocks in both mature areas such as the Sirte and Ghadames basins, less explored (but proven) areas such as the Murzuk and Cyrenaica basins and frontier areas such as the Kufra basin of southern Libya. [Business Wire]
Friday, 4 August, 2000: U.S. President Clinton on Thursday revised government controls on computer exports for the fifth time since 1993, relaxing controls on some countries and raising the computing-speed threshold at which the standards apply.The changes do not affect a virtual embargo on computer exports to North Korea, Cuba, Iraq, Iran, Libya and Sudan. [Reuters]
Thursday, 3 August, 2000: The Libyan leader, Col. Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi, arrived Wednesday morning in Tunisia for "a friendship and working visit," the duration of which was not specified. Tunisia's interior minister, Abdallah Kallel, welcomed Qadhafi at the border post of Ras Jedir, 650 km south-east of Tunis as the Libyan leader had travelled by road. Qadhafi is expected to hold talks with President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali, on bilateral relations and the revitalisation of Arab Maghreb Union. Qadhafi is also expected to meet with Tunisian intellectuals and officials from the National Union of Tunisian Women. [PANA]
Wednesday, 2 August, 2000: Egyptian Minister of Petroleum Sameh Samir Fahmi said Egypt and Libya will consider soon the possibility of involving in joint oil projects. During a recent visit to Libya, Fahmi said, the two sides agreed on carrying out a study which covers bilateral cooperation in oil and natural gas. The study, due to be finished within two weeks, calls on the Libyan side to increase its investments in Egypt. [Al-Gomhuria]
Wednesday, 2 August, 2000: Big U.S. Oil is turning up the heat on Washington to scrap sanctions that have kept American energy firms out of the race for prize prospects in Iran and Libya. They have a powerful ally in new Republican vice-presidential candidate Richard Cheney -- who just six weeks ago called on the U.S. government to allow its companies to resume business in Iran. Firms expect their campaign to come to a head a year from now with the expiry of a separate U.S. law -- the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act (ILSA) -- threatening sanctions against foreign energy firms investing in the two countries. [Reuters]
Tuesday, 1 August, 2000: As chief executive of Halliburton Co. since 1995, the United States Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush's running mate Dick Cheney has been able to rely heavily on the high-level contacts in the Middle East he made as defense secretary to win business in the roughneck world of international oil. Halliburton's Brown and Root construction services subsidiary has been the project manager for a massive irrigation pipeline project in Libya for the government of Col. Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi. The work is done through European subsidiaries that already were operating in Libya when U.S. sanctions were established. Just before Cheney arrived at Halliburton, the firm also settled a longstanding investigation by the Commerce Department concerning exports of U.S.-produced oil field equipment to Libya.In the July 1995 consent agreement, Halliburton agreed to pay a $2.6 million fine for selling oil field equipment through Italy or Kuwait to Libya without required export licenses, and for selling U.S. spare parts for logging equipment through Italy to Libya without proper licenses. [The State]
Tuesday, 1 August, 2000: Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed Monday to visit Libya and was quoted as urging the United Nations to finally lift sanctions against Tripoli. The foreign ministers of both countries proclaimed a new era of improved ties, including in the military sphere. Putin's acceptance of Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi's invitation follows his visit this month to North Korea and talks in Moscow with the deputy prime minister of Iraq -- two other Soviet-era allies mistrusted by the West. ``The invitation has been gratefully accepted. The timing of the visit will be determined through diplomatic channels,'' said Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov at a joint news conference with Libyan counterpart Abdel-Rahman Shalgam, who earlier met Putin. [Reuters]
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