News and Views [ December 1999 ]

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Friday: 31 December, 1999: A detention hearing is set to resume on Thursday for a Canadian woman accused of trying to smuggle an Algerian national into the United States. Lucia Garofalo, 35, of Montreal was arrested Dec 19 when she allegedly tried to smuggle in Buoabide Chamchi, 20, also a Montreal resident. During her detention hearing last week, U.S. prosecutors said Garofalo may have links to an international arms dealer. Asst. U.S. Attorney told U.S. Magistrate Jerome Niedermeier that Garofalo also had relatives in Libya. But her attorney dismissed those accusations, calling them nothing more than ''innuendo.'' [Reuters]

Thursday: 30 December, 1999: Former world sprint champion Ben Johnson says his life in Libya training leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi's son is pretty simple go to work with armed guards, come back to the hotel. Johnson, who was stripped of his records and honors because of positive doping tests, told the Toronto Sun newspaper he was enjoying the three-month stint that began a few weeks ago. "I just work and sleep,'' Johnson said in a story published Wednesday. "But that's OK. I'm here to work, not to socialize.'' "The people here treat me very nice. Everything here is first class,'' Johnson said, mentioning the 24-hour room service at the hotel where he stays and limousines that transport him to and from the training facility in the coastal city of Banghazi. Then there are the guards, who Johnson described as "fully packed'' with automatic rifles. "Even when I go down to the lobby, they come with me,'' he said. "They don't want to take any chances.'' Johnson's Libyan assistant, Islam Mohamed Aboudaya, said Johnson's status as "an important personality'' made the tight security necessary, the Sun reported. "It has nothing to do with politics,'' Aboudaya told the newspaper. [AP]
Thursday: 30 December, 1999: The century is coming to a close with a third of the world's 193 nations embroiled in conflict, nearly twice the Cold War level, a group that keeps track of battle zones reported Wednesday. In its annual report, the National Defense Council Foundation blamed rising military coups and a backlash against democracy, a trend it suggested could continue for several years. Seventeen countries were added to the list this year, and 12 were removed - including two with authoritarian governments, Cuba and Libya. They were removed in light of reduced terrorist violence against President Fidel Castro's Cuban government and Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi's ``strong control over the country,'' the report said. [AP]

Wednesday: 29 December, 1999: Libya has drafted a plan to raise sea resource production to 55,000 tons and fish production to 12,000 tons a year. According to a source close to the Libyan People's General Committee on Sea Resources (Ministry), this means 80 percent of products from pisci-culture and 25 percent of fishing products will be exported. The plan also provides for an increase of investments and the exploitation of untapped resources such as reefs and algae. Companies specialised in fisheries have already shown interest in the project. [PANA]
Wednesday: 29 December, 1999: Discussions for the development of Libyan-Italian co- operation in the areas of education, scientific research and vocational training opened Tuesday in Tripoli. The delegations to the talks are led by Libyan Education Minister, Maatoug Mohammed Maatoug, and his Italian counterpart, Luigi Berlinguer. According to Maatoug, the meeting is in line with the Libyan-Italian joint declaration signed in July 1998. He stressed the importance of co-operation between the two countries, which are important in the Mediterranean basin. For his part, Berlinguer reaffirmed his Italy's will to strengthen and diversify co-operation with Libya in various areas. He expressed satisfaction at the development of relations between the two countries. [PANA]
Wednesday: 29 December, 1999: The Libyan leader, Col. Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi, has informed Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, current OAU chairman, the UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, and OAU Secretary General Salim Ahmed Salim of the "positive results" of the mini African summit held 21-22 December in Tripoli. Besides Qadhafi, the summit was attended by Presidents Omar Hassan Al Beshir of Sudan, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, Laurent Desire Kabila of Democratic Republic of Congo and Issaias Afworki of Eritrea. Strained relations have existed among the countries that attended the summit which ended with the signing of an agreement to normalise relations between Sudan and Eritrea, while Congo and Uganda signed a similar pact. [PANA]
Wednesday: 29 December, 1999: Denmark will close its embassy in Rabat in February but will maintain consular services in two main Moroccan cities, the official MAP news agency said on Tuesday. The agency said the decision was not politically motivated and was purely due to ``financial constraints.'' In Copenhagen, a Foreign Ministry official said Denmark would move its embassy to Algiers in May to oversee diplomatic activities in Morocco, Libya, Tunisia and Mauritania. [Reuters]
Wednesday: 29 December, 1999: Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and Morocco's King Mohammed on Tuesday welcomed the resumption of negotiations between Syria and Israel and urged for the holding of an Arab Summit, an official said. ``...they called for the holding of an Arab summit as soon as possible,'' the spokesman added at the end of a four-hour visit by King Mohammed who was on his first trip to Tunis since he was enthroned in July. As King Mohammed arrived in Tunis, President Ben Ali had a telephone conversation with Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi during which they reviewed relations between the two countries, officials said. [Reuters]
Tuesday: 28 December, 1999: Arab Insurance Group (ARIG) said on Monday its London-based subsidiary, Arig Insurance Co. Ltd. (UK) (Arig UK), had ceased all underwriting operations after posting heavy losses. ``ARIG UK ceased all underwriting operations recently after recording losses in 1998 and 1999,'' an ARIG statement said. Libya, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait each hold a 16.3 percent stake in ARIG, whose shares are also traded on the Kuwait, Omani and Egyptian bourses. Its GDRs are listed on the London Stock Exchange. [Reuters]

Saturday: 25 December, 1999: After years of condemning Libya as a rogue state, the Clinton administration has recently taken steps toward better relations with the government of leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafy, citing evidence of growing moderation on the part of a leader long demonized as a patron of international terror. Since Qadhafy agreed in April to the extradition of two men suspected of blowing up a Pan Am jetliner over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988, the administration has permitted four U.S. oil companies to visit Libya on reconnaissance missions and last month, publicly welcomed the expulsion from Libya of the infamous Abu Nidal terrorist group. Although unilateral U.S. sanctions still bar most trade between American companies and Libya, the administration approved last spring the de facto lifting of international U.N. sanctions against the oil-rich North African country and -- according to a senior official -- is considering whether to lift a passport restriction that bars U.S. citizens from traveling to Libya without a special State Department exemption. [Washington Post]
Friday: 24 December, 1999: Today marks the 48th anniversary of Libya'sindependence. Libya achieved her independence on the 24th of December 1951. After years of local resistance to the Italian occupation and years of political work locally and internationally following Italy's defeat in World War II, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution on 21 November 1949 granting Libya its independance no later than 1 January 1952. For more details, please click here
Friday: 24 December, 1999: Uganda on Thursday handed over to the Libyan embassy six Chadian prisoners of war (POW) allegedly captured 14 months ago during fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The six healthy looking men were driven away in a Libyan embassy vehicle to an unknown destination after the ceremony, which was witnessed by diplomats, International Committee of the Red Cross and UN officials, including the interim commander of the Joint Military Commission in charge of monitoring the ceasefire in the DRC, Brigadier Timothy Kazembe of Zambia. [AFP]
Friday: 24 December, 1999: Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi said his forces are capable of carrying out serious peacekeeping work throughout the African continent, the official JANA news agency reported Wednesday. "Libya has the capability of sending forces to assure the success of peace efforts in Africa," Qadhafi said Tuesday following a mini-summit with the combative presidents of Eritrea and Sudan, as well as Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), JANA said. "Libya will put all its means at the disposal of African leaders," said Qadhafi, who in the past several months has sought to play a serious role on the continent and has been actively engaged in peacemaking efforts. [SAPA]
Friday: 24 December, 1999: Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir wound up a visit to Libya and Egypt Thursday with broad expressions of regional support after emergency measures he imposed last week to weaken a political rival. In Tripoli on Tuesday, Beshir signed an accord to normalise ties with three neighbours -- Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, and Uganda -- at the end of a mini African summit grouping the leaders of the four states with Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi. If the agreement succeeds, it will be another important success for Beshir as Eritrea and Uganda have long served as bases for the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) which has been fighting the Khartoum regime since 1983. Egypt and Libya put their support firmly behind Beshir at an urgent summit meeting called in Tripoli less than 48 hours after the emergency measures were imposed. [AFP]

Wednesday: 22 December, 1999: Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi said Tuesday that worldwide hatred of the United States and its policies was behind terrorist threats aimed at its citizens and interests. "America knows very well it is hated everywhere in the world because of its hostile policy," Qadhafi told the CBS News program, "The Early Show," on the 11th anniversary of the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland for which two Libyans are being tried. "The threat (from America) is everywhere," he said referring to US sanctions imposed on Libya and Washington's hard-line stance refusing to completely lift UN sanctions on Tripoli until it cooperates fully with the Lockerbie trial. "America is conducting (a) terrorist policy in the world, to be the police of the world, to bring all the world under its umbrella, its influence, its hegemony, and the people, they refuse this completely. "For this America knows that all the people of the world are against it. Therefore America is afraid," Qadhafi said in the rare interview. [AFP]
Wednesday: 22 December, 1999: Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi said on Tuesday he would seek an apology and compensation if two Libyan suspects on trial in the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am passenger plane over Lockerbie, Scotland are found innocent. Abdel Basset al-Megrahi and Al-Amin Khalifa Fahima are scheduled to stand trial on May 3 in the Netherlands on charges of bombing Pan Am Flight 103 on Dec. 21, 1988, killing all 259 people on the plane and 11 on the ground. Qadhafi handed over the suspects after eight years of delay, and only after striking a deal to have the two men tried under Scottish law at a former military base in The Netherlands in order to ensure a fair trial. In a taped interview from Tripoli on CBS's ``Early Show'' on Tuesday, the 11th anniversary of the bombing, Qadhafi said if the two men are found innocent he would seek an apology and compensation from the United States. ``This must be, must be, and all the world says this,'' he said. Asked whether that meant he would seek both compensation and an apology he answered, ``Yes, of course....'' [Reuters]
Wednesday: 22 December, 1999: Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi has gathered the leaders of Sudan, Uganda, Eritrea and the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Tripoli to play peacemaker in their quarrels. In a dinner speach to the participants broadcast on Libyan television on Tuesday evening, Qadhafi said the leaders had agreed to free prisoners, send ambassadors back to their posts, and reopen air links. He did not name countries involved in these moves. The gathering is attended by Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, Eritrea's Isayas Afewerki, Uganda's Yoweri Museveni, and Democratic Republic of the Congo's Laurent Kabila. [Reuters]
Tuesday: 21 December, 1999: Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi has met Laurent Kabila, president of the Democratic Republic of Congo,for talks on ways to restore peace in Africa's Great Lakes region, Libyan state television reported on Monday. It said Qadhafi and Kabila met in Tripoli on Sunday night to discuss the situation in the Congo and the Great lakes region and mechanisms to implement a peace accord concluded earlier this year between Kabila's government and rebels. Libya is among African countries providing observers to monitor the shaky ceasefire. [Reuters]


Sunday: 19 December, 1999: Italian Prime Minister Massimo D'Alema told parliament on Saturday he intended to offer his resignation to the head of state, throwing Italy into a full-blown government crisis. D'Alema on 2 December became the first Western head of government to visit Libya since 1992 sanctions isolated the nation, giving a vote of confidence to a country struggling to overcome Western isolation. The Italian Democratic Socialists called for a new government in January with someone else at its head -- spoiling D'Alema's plans to reshuffle and reinforce his government next month to enable it to serve a full legislative term until 2001. [Reuters]
Saturday: 18 December, 1999: U.S. Presidential contender Pat Buchanan reversed his support for economic sanctions Thursday and pledged to lift all such punishments against Iran, Iraq, Cuba and other nations. ``Our sanctions are sowing seeds of hatred that will one day flower in acts of terrorism against us, years after these sanctions expire,'' Buchanan said in a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. ``Among my first acts as president will be to declare an end to all sanctions ... against Cuba, North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Myanmar, Sudan and all the other targeted nations of U.S. sanctions policy,'' he said. His new stance distinguishes him from every Republican and Democratic presidential candidate, as well as likely Reform Party rival Donald Trump. [AP]
Saturday: 18 December, 1999: Former Argentina coach Carlos Bilardo leaves for Libya on Friday at Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi's request to help train Libya's soccer squad. Banned Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson is already training the squad which includes al-Saadi, son of the Libyan leader. As coach of Argentina Bilardo won the World Cup in 1986 with Diego Maradona who also recommended Johnson to al-Saadi. If the Argentine coach and the Libyan Soccer Federation agree terms, Bilardo's contract will begin on January 4. Bilardo plans to run for Argentina's presidency in 2003. ``It's an important project with an attractive compensation package. But the challenge is I'll have to start from scratch and set up a school for coaches and players,'' Bilardo said. [Reuters]
Friday: 17 December, 1999: Libya says it has taken major steps to ensure energy production and services cope with the Y2K or Millennium computer bug. ``The energy sector has made big efforts to secure the continuity of production flow and of services,'' said a statement from the national committee coordinating Libya's transition to 2000. ``A big step has been completed in measures to cope (with the Y2K bug) and in continuity and precaution plans,'' said the statement sent to Reuters. Equipment in the oil, gas and power generation and distribution sectors had been modernised or upgraded to make them Y2K compliant. ``This statement means there are no plans for shutdowns in oil production or exportation, refineries, and power plants,'' said a Libyan energy source contacted by telephone from Tunis. [Reuters]
Friday: 17 December, 1999: Banned Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson has started training al-Saadi, son of Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi and a member of Libya's national soccer squad. ``Johnson and his team arrived on Wednesday in Benghazi and they immediately started training al-Saadi. Johnson had been recommended to al-Saadi by Diego Maradona,'' a Libyan sports official contacted from Tunis told Reuters on Thursday. Johnson's agent Morris Chrobotek said last week the deal to provide strength and power training to al-Saad and his teammates over the next three months was worth about $35,000. [Reuters]
Friday: 17 December, 1999: Egypt said on Wednesday it had no immediate plans to hold a summit with Sudan and Libya, whose leaders have been in close contact this week over a political standoff in Khartoum. ``There is nothing proposed at present on the three-way summit, but there is nothing to prevent holding one,'' Foreign Minister Amr Moussa told reporters. President Hosni Mubarak and Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi met in Tripoli on Tuesday and proclaimed support for Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who set off the crisis when he imposed a state of emergency and dissolved parliament on Sunday. The three men had also been in telephone contact on Monday to discuss Bashir's moves to consolidate his grip on power and sideline his former ally Hassan al-Turabi, speaker of parliament and secretary-general of the ruling National Congress Party. [Reuters]
Wednesday: 15 December, 1999: Egypt and Libya gave their full backing to Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir on Tuesday, describing his imposition of emergency rule as legitimate, the Egyptian news agency reported. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak flew unexpectedly to Tripoli Tuesday to hold talks with Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi on Sudan, the Middle East News Agency reported. In a joint statement they expressed ``full support and backing'' for steps taken by el-Bashir ``to safeguard the unity of Sudan and achieve stability and security for its people.'' El-Bashir, an army lieutenant general, dissolved Parliament on Sunday and imposed a state of emergency after accusing his former mentor and the country's strongman, Hassan Turabi, of trying to undermine him. [AP]
Wednesday: 15 December, 1999: Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak left for Libya on Tuesday for talks with Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi that were expected to focus on Sudan's political crisis, presidential sources said. Both men telephoned Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir on Monday after he dissolved parliament and declared a state of emergency in a move aimed at his former ally, Parliament Speaker Hassan al-Turabi, state media reported. The presidential sources said Mubarak would spend a few hours in Libya accompanied by Foreign Minister Amr Moussa and presidential adviser Osama-el Baz. Libya and Egypt are working on a joint initiative to reconcile Sudanese opposition groups with the Islamist-led government in Khartoum and end Sudan's 16-year-old civil war. [Reuters]
Tuesday: 14 December, 1999: US-based conservative think-tank the Heritage Foundation issued its year 2000 Index of Economic Freedom, listing the most free and most repressed economies throughout the globe. Libya was ranked the third most repressed economy in the world, ranking 159th out of 161; Iraq and North Korea were the only countries listed more repressed than Libya. [North Africa Journal]

Sunday: 12 December, 1999: Colonel Qadhafi's new policy of co-operating with the West and the rewards it has brought are playing well with his people. "We want to end our problems with all other countries," said mechanical engineer Sadeq Saoud, as he sat in the offices of the Libyan Airline, making preparations to fly to Saudi Arabia. "We want to make good relations with all the people in the world." The United States still maintains its own embargo on Tripoli. But a thaw is well underway in Libya's relations with Europe. European businessmen are now beating a trail to Libya, hoping for new contracts particularly in the country's vast oil industry. [BBC]
Sunday: 12 December, 1999: Zimbabwean Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa left Harare on Thursday for Libya to appeal for fuel supplies on credit to avert a looming national shortage, reports said here. The weekly independent Financial Gazette said Murerwa would also be appealing to Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi's government for financial assistance to help bail out the state-owned National Oil Company of Zimbabwe, sinking under debts of US28 billion. An official in his office confirmed Murerwa would be travelling abroad, but refused to give details. The Gazette quoted unnamed officials at NOCZIM as saying that the company's traditional suppliers in South Africa and the Middle East were demanding cash payment before delivery. Zimbabwe had three weeks of fuel reserves left, the official said. "The future hinges on the outcome of Murerwa's trip," he said. [SAPA]
Sunday: 12 December, 1999: Sudanese opposition groups have agreed to take part in a regional peace initiative seeking to end a brutal civil war in Africa's largest country, an opposition spokesman said on Saturday. The umbrella National Democratic Alliance (NDA), which groups 12 southern and northern Sudan opposition groups, pledged to work for peace under the Inter-Governmental Authority (IGAD) peace initiative after a two-day meeting in the Ugandan capital. ``We have resolved (that the) NDA will be included in the IGAD peace process subject to the approval of the IGAD countries,'' John Andruga Duku, a spokesman for the Sudanese People's Liberation Army (SPLA), the dominant member of the group told Reuters. Duku said the meeting had rejected a parallel move by Libya and Egypt to help end conflict in Sudan. It also denounced a separate peace deal forged by the Umma party -- one of its members -- and the government of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir. [Reuters]
Saturday: 11 December, 1999: Banned Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson has hired himself out to train members of the Libyan national soccer team, including the son of Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi, Johnson's agent said Friday. The deal to provide strength and power training to Al-Saadi al-Qadhafi and his teammates in the next three months, is worth about $35,000 (U.S.) to the cash-strapped Johnson, his agent Morris Chrobotek said from Toronto in a telephone interview. Chrobotek said he believes the Libyan deal will lead to a new career for Johnson as a trainer. ``It's going to be state-of-the-art training as we did for Diego Maradona,'' said Chrobotek, referring to Johnson's work with the Argentinean soccer player in his 1997 comeback. [Reuters]

The sixth anniversary of the disappearance of Mansour al-Kikhiya

Friday: 10 December, 1999: Libya bought a total 22,500 tonnes of wheat flour from Tunisia and talks are continuing for the purchase of up to 100,000 tonnes, traders told Reuters on Thursday. They said the purchase was in three separate contracts for 10,000 tonnes, 7,500 tonnes and 5,000 tonnes for which firm contracts had already been signed last week. ``Tunisian millers are continuing negotiations with Libya and we hope that we will sell Libya up to 100,000 tonnes flour within the next six months,'' a trader said. [Reuters]

Thursday: 9 December, 1999: A judge in the Lockerbie case quashed a defense motion to limit the charges against two Libyans on Wednesday and prosecutors said they would be calling CIA and former East German Stasi agents as witnesses. Presiding judge Lord Ranald Sutherland granted a defense request to postpone the start of the trial for three months until May 3, to give lawyers for the accused more time to study some 2,347 pieces of evidence and 1,127 witnesses. A further pre-trial hearing was fixed for February 2 to settle the vexed question of which witnesses would be allowed to disguise their appearances, voices and identities once the real proceedings start, and how far they might go in doing so. [Reuters]
Thursday: 9 December, 1999: A team from Conoco Inc. is currently evaluating oilfields in Libya that the company was forced to abandon more than a decade ago because of U.S. sanctions. Conoco Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Archie Dunham told the Arthur Andersen Energy Symposium in Houston on Tuesday that the U.S. State Department had recently given Conoco and some other companies permission to travel to Libya. Dunham said the State Department had refused to allow him to travel to Libya himself and had further stipulated that the company's team should include only one manager. The Conoco team is being led by Ted Davis, president of the company's operations in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, whom Dunham described as one of Conoco's most experienced executives. Dunham said the team, composed mainly of technical experts, had left for Libya on Saturday and that he had not yet heard back from them. ``They're going out in the field and looking at our production facilities in Libya,'' he told reporters. [Reuters]
Thursday: 9 December, 1999: Moroccan wheat flour millers are negotiating with Libya the shipment of up to 60,000 tonnes of wheat flour to be delivered within two months at the latest, an official from the private millers group said on Tuesday. ``The Libyans have proposed a sale price of 313 Swiss francs ($201.4) per tonne, but Moroccan millers are pressing for a higher price,'' the Millers National Federation (FNM) official told Reuters. He said French millers had recently exported wheat flour to Libya at around 350 Swiss francs per tonne. ``Moroccan millers are aware of that shipment and its price,'' added the official, who declined to be named. [Reuters]
Thursday: 9 December, 1999: Defence lawyers fiercely contested on Tuesday the right of a Scottish court to try two Libyan suspects charged with bombing an airliner in 1988 over Lockerbie, Scotland, and killing 270 people. Shielded by bullet-proof glass, the two suspects -- making their first public appearance -- heard their defence team accuse the convened Scottish tribunal of acting beyond its jurisdiction in charging the two with "conspiracy to murder." "Charge one narrates a considerable number of locations, none of which is in Scotland," said lawyer William Taylor, in an attack on the first of three accusations lodged against the suspects. "It is difficult to identify with confidence what charge one is," added Taylor, arguing that there was "no nexus with any crime in Scotland." In response, one of the three court judges, Lord Sutherland, maintained that the "nexus" with Scotland might well "arise because of other evidence." Amid tight security, the two Libyans, Abdel-Basset Ali al-Megrahi, 47, and Al-Amin Khalifa Fahima, 42, appeared in dark suits and alongside Arabic translators in Tuesday's pre-trial hearing without making any declarations. [AFP]


Tuesday: 7 December, 1999: Britain's first ambassador to Libya in 15 years sets off for his new post on Tuesday promising to help Tripoli return to the ``mainstream of the international community.'' Richard Dalton, appointed after the two countries ended their lengthy political impasse over the shooting of a London policewoman and the 1988 Lockerbie bombing, said he wanted to help nurture more stable relations. ``We're making this fresh start. We will be proceeding cautiously,'' Dalton said at the Foreign Office in London. ``We want the relationship to be on a sound and stable basis.'' [Reuters]
Tuesday: 7 December, 1999: Two Libyans accused of causing the Lockerbie bombing are to appear in public for the first time to challenge part of the case against them. The two men - Abdelbaset Al-Megrahi and Al Amin Fhimah - will appear before a Scottish judge at a pre-trial hearing in a court in the Netherlands. The two men are accused of the murder of the 270 people who died when a Pan Am jet was destroyed over Lockerbie in December 1988. They are also charged with conspiracy to murder and a breach of the 1982 Aviation Security Act. Lawyers for the two accused men are attempting to have the conspiracy charge dismissed. They are arguing that a Scottish court is not entitled to hear the charge because the alleged conspiracy took place outside the UK. They are also expected to argue that it is oppressive for the prosecution to link the conspiracy charge directly with that of murder when the men are also facing a separate charge of murder. [BBC]
Tuesday: 7 December, 1999: When Italy's prime minister landed in Tripoli last week, he couldn't have failed to notice the lack of pomp for the first Western leader to visit in eight years. The airport was festooned with colorful posters of African leaders who have come to Libya, but there was none of arriving Premier Massimo D'Alema. And no Italian flags fluttered in the city. The muted welcome carried a not-so-subtle message: As Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi gets ready to deal with the West, he will do so at his own pace and on his own terms. The West is likely to play Qadhafi's game. The lure is Libya's oil industry, where investment opportunities abound. With proven reserves of 30 billion barrels, Libya has as much oil as Norway and Britain combined, and production costs for its high-grade crude are among the world's lowest. [AP]
Tuesday: 7 December, 1999: Libyan leader Col. Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi Sunday afternoon led Presidents Gnassingbe Eyadema of Togo and Ange-Felix Patasse of Central African Republic on a tour of the Tripoli Museum Complex, where he showed them the coveted Venus Statue. Libya recovered the statue through the chairman of the Italian Council, Massiomo D'Alema, when he visited Libya 1-2 December. Qadhafi explained the historical significance of Venus to his guests, saying it dates back to the second century [AD]. He said the statue was carried away from Leptis Magna, 120 km east of Tripoli, in 1939 by the governor of Libya during its occupation by Italy. It was later offered to the German authorities. Qadhafi emphasised that Tripoli would demand the restitution of any archaeological, historical and art objects taken from Libya by the Italian and German governments. He noted that "Venus" is the beginning of the restitution of spoiled art and archaeological works. [PANA]
Monday: 6 December, 1999: Egyptian border police on Sunday placed rolls of barbed wire along 300 metres (yards) of no-man's-land at the Libyan border after some 200 angry Bedouin pelted Libyan border guards with stones, security sources said. They said the attack took place on Friday at the al-Saloum border checkpoint 700 km (430 miles) northwest of Cairo, after a Libyan officer stopped a Bedouin from bringing goods into Egypt. The Egyptian and Libyan authorities have since agreed to keep Egyptian traders, who hail from a Bedouin tribe that straddles both sides of the border, out of the no-man's-land. The Libyans recently clamped down on Egyptian Bedouin buying subsidised commodities in Libya and reselling them for a profit in Egypt. [Reuters]
Sunday: 5 December, 1999: Libya criticized the United States on Saturday for saying it would monitor the Libyan government's policy on terrorism. ``The Great Jamahiriya (Libya) rejects the monitoring of its behavior, whether by America or anyone else,'' the official Libyan news agency, JANA, said in a report faxed to The Associated Press in Cairo. ``America should know well that it is a country like any other country.'' The Libyan government said Thursday during a visit of the Italian prime minister that it would deny ``sustenance and protection to those responsible for terrorist acts.'' Hours later, State Department spokesman James Rubin said Washington recognized that ``Libya has made statements indicating their intent to change their behavior, but we obviously want to monitor that very carefully.'' [AP]
Saturday: 4 December, 1999: At the end of Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi talks with visiting Italian Prime Minister Massimo D'Alema, Qadhafi was asked about Libyan relations with the United States and Britain. ``With Great Britain there is no longer any problem,'' Qadhafi said through a translator. ``But with America, it depends on America,'' he added. Washington has signalled it has begun to see signs of change in Libya's position but has said it is still too soon to lift its 18-year-old sanctions against Tripoli. The United States remained unmoved by the Tripoli declaration in which Libya promised to deny aid and protection to terrorists., saying it would not relax sanctions against foreign companies making large investments in Libya's energy sector. ``These steps don't satisfy all our concerns,'' State Department spokesman James Rubin said, adding that Libya had still to renounce terrorism, cooperate in the Lockerbie trial and compensate the families of the bombing victims. [Reuters]
Friday: 3 December, 1999: Disgraced Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson will be hired to train Al-Saadi al-Qadhafi, son of Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi and a member of the national soccer team, Libya's Italian coach said on Thursday. Speaking in the Malawi capital Lilongwe before a friendly against Malawi, coach Eugenio Bersellini told Reuters that Johnson and a German trainer, whom he did not name, would work on the personal fitness of Gadaffi for 90 days. ``Al-Saadi is hiring Ben Johnson,'' Bersellini said. ``He would like to see what Johnson can achieve with him personally and then maybe he will consider an arrangement for the team.'' Libyan officials said Johnson would attempt to do with Qadhafi what he did with Argentine soccer player Diego Maradona, whom he helped train for a comeback in 1997. They said massage therapist Yosuf Omar and coaches Armando Costa and Raul ``Lalo'' Maradona would accompany Johnson. Johnson and his colleagues are due to arrive in the Libyan capital Tripoli on December 15 to start their assignment. [Reuters]
Friday: 3 December, 1999: Libya promised Thursday to deny aid and protection to terrorists. The stand was taken in a joint statement with Italy at the end of Prime Minister Massimo D'Alema's landmark visit to Libya, the first by a Western head of government since United Nations sanctions were imposed in 1992. ``The two sides underscored the need to deny aid and protection to those responsible for terrorist acts and expressed the hope that further measures of cooperation can be adapted to prevent, contain and repress such acts,'' the statement said. It was issued after D'Alema held more than three hours of talks with Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi in the Libyan leader's tent at a military compound in the outskirts of Tripoli. Both sides underscored the need to respect international agreements against terrorism, the joint statement said. [Reuters]
Friday: 3 December, 1999: Italian Prime Minister Massimo D'Alema ended Thursday the first visit since 1992 by a western head of state to Libya, the main source of Italy's oil for Italy and the main customer for Italian imports. D'Alema held talks with Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi Thursday and then left, 24 hours after his arrival, officials said. Earlier in the day, he presided over a ceremony to return a second century statue of Venus given by the Italian governor of this former colony to German Nazi air force commander Hermann Goering. The work of art was found in the Thermal Baths of Leptis Magna in 1940 and governor Italo Balbo, himself a leading figure in Italian aviation, gave it to Goering. The statue, which had been kept in Berlin's Pergamon Museum, was obtained by the Italian foreign ministry after complicated negotiations, in order to restore it to Libya. [AFP]
Thursday: 2 December, 1999: Libya has reduced its support of terrorism and is lending its support to the Middle East peace process, but Washington is still cautious about relations with Tripoli, a senior US official said Tuesday. "The most significant changes in Libya's behavior has been its declining support for terrorism," said Ronald Neumann, deputy assistant secretary of state for near eastern affairs. "Since April, Libya has taken a number of important steps to reduce its support for terrorist groups and activities." He also noted that Libya was fighting extremist groups on its own soil, taking concrete steps, like denying visas, to stop terrorists from carrying out their missions. Neumann added: "It is also clear that Libya shares the concerns of its regional neighbors about Islamic extremist Osama bin Laden and his associates." The US official, who was speaking at the Middle East Institute in Washington, also said Tripoli had moved beyond a complete rejection of the Middle East peace process and was supporting the Palestinian Authority and Yasser Arafat. "The US government welcomes the Libyan support for the Palestinian Authority and views it as a strong symbol of Libyan willingness to support the peace process," he said. [AFP]
Thursday: 2 December, 1999: Italy's prime minister on Wednesday became the first Western head of government to visit Libya since 1992 sanctions isolated the nation, giving a vote of confidence to a country struggling to overcome Western isolation. Premier Massimo D'Alema was received at the Maetiga military airport by Mohammed el-Mangoush, secretary of the General Committee, Libya's equivalent to a prime minister. ``Italy is a bridge between Libya and Europe ... and at the same time we look at Libya as a connection between Europe and Africa and the Arab world,'' D'Alema told reporters in a brief statement. His two-day visit is a show of support for Libya as it takes its first steps toward recovering from two decades of Western ostracization and U.N. sanctions. [AP]
Thursday: 2 December, 1999: U.S. unilateral sanctions on Libya could hamper plans by European consortium Airbus to supply Tripoli with new planes worth over one billion dollars, European industry and trade sources said. European aircraft consortium Airbus Industrie said last month Libyan Arab Airlines intended to buy around 24 Airbus planes, which would make it the first outright sale of aircraft to Tripoli. ``The Americans don't really want this deal to go through,'' said one trade source familiar with discussions between the consortium and Washington to try and overcome the hurdle. The problem with the potential deal, which has yet to be finalised, is that some engine parts and electronic navigation equipment are U.S. supplied, which could contravene existing sanctions under the U.S. 1996 Iran-Libya Sanctions Act. [Reuters]
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