News and Views

October 1998

Friday: 30 October, 1998: The U.N. Security Council extended sanctions against Libya on Thursday for another four months following warnings from the United States that Tripoli should hand over immediately the suspects in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing. ``If Libya fails to act, the United States and Britain will ask the council to meet again in mid-December to consider Libya's response,'' U.S. representative Peter Burleigh told reporters after a closed-door council session. [Reuters]
Wednesday: 28 October, 1998: British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook insisted on Tuesday that Britain would not give in to a Libyan demand that the two suspects in the Lockerbie bombing should serve their sentences outside Scotland if they were found guilty. Cook, answering questions in the House of Commons about progress in talks with Libya through U.N. Secretary--General Kofi Annan, said: ``We have been able to respond positively to all the issues raised by the Libyan legal team, with the exception of their demand that if convicted the two accused should not serve their sentence in a Scottish prison.'' [Reuters]
Wednesday: 28 October, 1998: Yugoslavia and Libya agreed on half a million tonnes of crude deliveries for the needs of the Balkan federation, the state television Radio Televisija Srbije (RTS) reported on Tuesday. According to the deal, the crude is expected to be delivered within the next 15 days, RTS said, without disclosing payment details. The deal was struck during a Yugoslav business delegation's three-day visit to Libya, which ended on Tuesday, the report said. [Reuters]
Tuesday: 27 October, 1998: The U.N. General Assembly on Monday adopted a Libyan-sponsored resolution, aimed at the United States, calling for the immediate repeal of laws that unilaterally impose sanctions on companies and nationals of other countries. The vote was 80 in favour, with only the United States and Israel voting against, but an unusually large number of 67 delegations abstained. The resolution is similar to one that the assembly adopted in 1996 by a vote of 56 to four, with 76 abstentions. Its resolutions have no binding effect. [Reuters]
Tuesday: 27 October, 1998: The U.S. government said on Monday its latest offer to Libya on the Pan Am plane blown up over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in 1988 would lapse if it felt Libya was playing for time. The United States would then resume a campaign for tougher sanctions against Libya, already under a U.N. air embargo because of its failure to hand over the two Libyans suspected of planting a bomb on the airliner, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright told relatives of the victims. [Reuters]

Saturday: 24 October, 1998: The Palestinean newspaper Palestine Today "Falasteen al-Yawm" reports that the families of the Jordanian prisoners in Asqalan prison, in the West Bank, told a Jordanian Prisoners Committee that a Libyan national is jailed in Asqalan prison. The fanilies said they saw the Libyan national during their recent visit to the prison. They did not supply any information about the Libyan prisoner's name or why the Israelis arrested him.
Friday: 23 October, 1998: Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi on Thursday left the southwest Tunisian city of Tozeur after a three-day holiday which included talks with Tunisian President Zaine al-Abidine Ben Ali, Tunisia's official news agency TAP reported. TAP said al-Qadhafi, who made the trip at Ben Ali's invitation to help recuperate from a hip operation, was seen off from Tozeur by the Tunisian leader. Ben Ali and al-Qadhafi held a first meeting in Tozeur late last Monday while members of the two governments held separate talks in Tunis and Tozeur on joint projects in energy and trade exchanges, officials said. [Reuters]
Wednesday: 21 October, 1998: A Cairo appeals court on Tuesday set a date for the case of an American woman seeking compensation for the 1993 disappearance of her Libyan dissident husband to be heard by another court. Baha al-Emary filed suit in 1996 against then Interior Minister Hassan el-Alfi for 500,000 pounds ($147,000) damages over the alleged abduction of her husband, Mansour al-Kikhia [pictured.] An Egyptian circuit court is now scheduled to hear the case on December 27. Earlier this year, a lower court threw out Emary's case for lack of evidence. Mansour al-Kikhia, a former Libyan foreign minister and opposition figure, was in Cairo attending a human rights conference when he disappeared, a day before Libya vowed to crush opponents of its leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi. [Reuters]
Wednesday: 21 October, 1998: Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi arrived in the Tunisian southwestern city of Tozeur on Monday to start a holiday to recuperate from a hip operation. Tunisia's foreign ministry said in a statement that the visit, at the invitation of Tunisian President Zaine al-Abidine Ben Ali, was ``brotherly and for resting.'' Al-Qadhafi crossed the Tunisian land border post of Ras Jedir and continued to Tozeur aboard a bus, going through the southeastern city of Gabes. [Reuters]
Monday: 19 October, 1998: Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi says he doesn't want confrontation with the United States and Great Britain over the planned Lockerbie bombings trial, The Sunday Telegraph reported. Sunday's newspaper quoted al-Qadhafi as saying, ``We have no interest in confrontation. Our people want peace. They want to be friends.'' The newspaper said al-Qadhafi renews his offer in the interview to hand over the two men, Lamen Fhimah and Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, suspected in the Luckerbie bombing. ``We can solve this problem very easily. The families of the victims will be satisfied. We have no interest in this tension,'' the newspaper quoted al-Qadhafi as saying. [AP]
Sunday: 18 October, 1998: Britain said on Friday there had been no breakthrough in Libya's talks with the United Nations on whether a trial on the 1988 mid-air bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland, could be held in the Netherlands. A main stumbling point in surrendering the suspects to Dutch authorities for a trial under Scottish law is where the two Libyans would be imprisoned, if convicted in the bombing in which 270 people died. Neither the United States nor Britain is willing to negotiate this issue, saying the two must be jailed in Scotland and not in the Netherlands or Libya as Tripoli insists. [Reuters]
Thursday: 15 October, 1998: Libya has been assured that no witnesses it would send to a possible trial on the Lockerbie case would be arrested for any incident connected with the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am airliner, diplomats said on Wednesday. But they said the main stumbling point in conducting a trial in the Netherlands under Scottish law was still where the two Libyan suspects would serve their sentence if convicted. Neither the United States nor Britain are willing to negotiate this point, saying the two must be imprisoned in Scotland and not jailed in the Netherlands or Libya as Tripoli insists. Libya sent a team on Sept. 30 to confer with U.N. legal officers on the Anglo-American proposal to try two suspects in the Netherlands under Scottish law. The Libyan team is still in New York, the diplomats said. [Reuters]
Monday: 12 October, 1998: The Tunisian navy intercepted 54 Africans aboard two ships bound for Italy this week in a coastal operation designed to crack down on illegal immigration, a leading Tunisian newspaper said on Saturday. The government-controlled daily "La Presse" said the people came from Somalia, Sierra Leone, Ghana and Liberia. A preliminary investigation showed that one ship left from a port near Ceuta in Morocco and the other from Libya. [Reuters]

Friday: 9 October, 1998: Two Libyan suspects wanted in connection with the Pan Am bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland, said they did not think they could get a fair trial in any European court and would prefer to face Arab of African judges. The two, Abdelbasset Ali Mohamed al-Megrahi and Lamen Khalifa Fhimah, spoke in an interview broadcast on Thursday by the London-based MBC satellite television channel monitored in Tunis. Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi, also interviewed by MBC, reiterated his belief that an U.S.-British proposal for a trial in the Netherlands was a trick and denied the two suspects were Libyan intelligence officers. [Reuters]
Thursday: 8 October, 1998: Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi said he would consider any Turkish attack on Syria as an "aggression'' against Libya. "Any Turkish aggression against Syria will be considered as an aggression against Libya,'' al-Qadhafi said in a speech on Monday night at a rally in the Libyan southern city of Sebha. He warned Ankara that its business interests with Tripoli would be hurt should an attack take place. Turkish firms operating in Libya would be replaced by Greek firms, al-Qadhafi said. Turkey and Greece are at odds over the Cyprus issue. [Reuters]
Tuesday: 6 October, 1998: A Libyan legal team has left for New York to discuss with U.N. officials arrangements for a trial in the Netherlands of two Libyan suspects in the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am airliner, Libya's official news agency JANA reported on Monday. The agency, received in Tunis, said the Libyan team would seek guarantees that the two suspects would not be transferred to the United States or Britain from the Netherlands. It did not specify when the team left and did not name its members. It was not clear whether JANA was referring to a Libyan team that met Hans Corell, the undersecretary-general for legal affairs, at the United Nations last week. [Reuters]
Monday: 5 October, 1998: After decades of preaching pan-Arab unity and injecting Libya into the affairs of the Middle East, Libyan leader Col. Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi apparently had a revelation recently about Libya's place in the world: Libya, he has decided, is African. "I have no more to lose talking with Arabs," al-Qadhafi said, according to published accounts of a television interview with the Libyan leader. "The Arab world is finished. . . . Africa is a paradise. . . . I would like Libya to become a black country. Hence, I recommend to Libyan men to marry only black women, and to Libyan women to marry black men." According to reports in the London-based Arabic daily Al-Hayat, the Libyan bureaucracy is already beginning the transformation. [Washington Post]
Saturday: 3 October, 1998: Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi has warned shopkeepers and traders to bring down prices of their goods or face being driven out of the country by angry crowds. "I advise traders that they don't have a future (in Libya)...Their profits have been too high,'' al-Qadhafi said in a speech on Thursday night, broadcast by Libyan state television and monitored in Tunis. "I advise them before (demonstrators) set their shops ablaze to go to another country, go to Africa." Al-Qadhafi was speaking at the closing session of a one-day meeting of the General People's Congress in the coastal town of Sirte. [Reuters]
Saturday: 3 October, 1998: A spokesman for the relatives of the victims of the Lockerbie bombing, Jim Swire, says he believes Libya has legitimate concerns over the proposed trial in the Netherlands of the two Libyan suspects. Tripoli has asked for guarantees that the suspects, who are to be tried under Scottish law, will not be extradited to Britain or the United States, and that Libyan witnesses will be protected. Dr Swire told the BBC he believed Libya's concerns could be resolved within weeks, if they were properly discussed. The United States and Britain have said their proposal for the trial in not up for negotiation. [BBC]
Saturday: 3 October, 1998: Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi said he hoped Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni would agree on setting up an African force to replace Ugandan and Rwandan troops in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Al-Qadhafi made the proposal after a mini-summit on Wednesday night with Museveni, and Presidents Idriss Deby of Chad, Isayas Afewerki of Eritrea and Ibrahim Bare Mainassara of Niger in the Libyan coastal city of Sirte. [Reuters]
Thursday: 1 October, 1998: Libya sent a team to New York on Wednesday to confer with U.N. legal officers on a British-American proposal to try two suspects in the 1988 Pan American airliner bombing in the Netherlands, diplomats said. U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard said the group was meeting Hans Corell, the undersecretary-general for legal affairs, but that he could not say how long they would be at U.N. headquarters. Libya's U.N. Ambassador Abuzed Omar Dora told the General Assembly on Tuesday that his government insisted on changes in the proposals, particularly where the two men, if convicted, would serve their sentences. [Reuters]
Thursday: 1 October, 1998: Three African presidents flew to Libya on Wednesday despite a U.N. embargo on flights imposed in connection with the bombing of a Pan Am airliner over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988. Libyan state television, monitored in Tunis, broadcast the arrivals of presidents Idriss Deby of Chad, Isayas Afewerki of Eritrea and Ibrahim Bare Mainassara of Niger at the Libyan coastal city of Sirte, 450 km (280 miles) east of Tripoli. The three were greeted at the airport by one of Libyan leader Muammar al-Qadhafi's lieutenants, Abubakr Yunes. [Reuters]
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