News and Views

February 1998

28 February 1998: The United States played down on Friday a decision by the International Court of Justice that gave Libya the first round in a bitter legal battle over the Lockerbie bombing. The International Court of Justice ruled it had jurisdiction to hear Libyan complaints against Britain and the United States over their 10-year pursuit of the bombers of Pan Am flight 103. A White House spokesman, P.J. Crowley, said the ruling was simply a "technical decision by the court.'' "We will file a detailed answer to Libya's claims and await further proceedings,'' he said. [Reuter]
28 February 1998: In a blow to London and Washington, the International Court of Justice ruled on Friday it had jurisdiction to hear Libya's complaints against Britain and the United States over the 1988 Lockerbie airliner bombing. The United Nations court also found that Libya's claims against Britain and the U.S. were admissible despite U.N. Security Council resolutions on the issue. Britain and the United States have blamed Libya for the blast which brought down Pan American flight 103 in December 1988, killing 259 people on board and 11 on the ground in the Scottish town of Lockerbie. In its interim ruling on Friday, the court rejected British and U.S. arguments that a hearing on the merits of Libya's case would encroach on resolutions of the Security Council. [Reuter]
26 February 1998: A round of official talks between Libya, led by secretary of the Libyan people's committee for security Muhammad Hijazi, and Saudi Arabia, led by Minister of the Interior Prince Nayef Bin Abdul Aziz, started in Tripoli on Tuesday. The two sides formed a joint committee comprising experts representing the two sides and prepared for a security agreement to be signed in conclusion of the talks. [Arabic News]
26 February 1998: A Sudanese opposition source said the chairman of the Sudanese Democratic National Assembly will head to Libya in the coming days to meet Col Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi and high-ranking officials. He will also meet with members of the Sudanese exiles in Libya. The previous Sudanese prime minister Al Sadiq Al-Mahdi visited Libya at the end of last year. [Arabic News]
25 February 1998: The International Court of Justice said on Monday it would hand down a ruling on Friday in the long-running dispute between Libya, the United States and Britain over the hunt for the Lockerbie bombers. Britain and the U.S. have asked the court to throw out Libya's case arguing, that it would be encroaching on the authority of the U.N. Security Council if it were to hear it. Libya has offered to hand the two suspects over for trial in a neutral country, but Britain and the U.S. have rejected this. [Reuter]
25 February 1998: Saudia Arabia's interior minister begins an official visit to Libya.
The Saudi's al-Yaum newspaper reports that the visit is to strengthen security cooperation between the two Arab countries. [Reuter]
22 February 1998: An international committee investigating the disappearance of Libyan opposition leader and ex-foreign minister of Libya Mansour al-Kikhia [pictured,] accused Libya, Egypt and the United States of hiding information concerning al-Kikhia's disappearance in Egypt on 10 December 1993. The committee is composed of Arab, European and American lawers. For more details [in Arabic / al-Hayat] please click here
21 February 1998: Col Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi has said he preferred the "destruction'' of the Iraqi people by a threatened U.S.-led strike rather than having U.N. arms inspectors search Iraqi presidential sites. "We prefer they destroy the Iraqi people rather than searching,'' al-Qadhafi said in an interview with the Arabic television channel Orbit that was broadcast on Thursday night by the Libyan state-run television. [Reuter]
21 February 1998: Foreign diplomats in Malawi have voiced concern about Malawi President Bakili Muluzi's announcement earlier this week that the country plans to establish diplomatic ties with Libya. "We have decided to establish diplomatic relations. This is not knew. Many countries have diplomatic ties with Libya,'' Muluzi said on Tuesday. "If traditional donors give me money to construct all the roads in Malawi, to construct all the schools in Malawi...then I'll not go to Libya,'' he said. [Reuter]
21 February 1998: Libya and Chad have agreed to strengthen co-operation between them in the interest of their respective peoples and also help improve relations between the Arab world and Africa. The two countries reached this conclusion at the end of a visit of Gen. Abdel Kader Kamougue, Speaker of the Chadian Parliament, to Libya. [PANA]
19 February 1998: UK-based oil company Lasmo Plc said on Tuesday it is raising the reserves estimate for its Elephant oil discovery in Libya to around 500 million barrels after a successful appraisal. "The results prove a substantial southerly extension of the field and increase most likely reserves to more than 500 million barrels of oil,'' the company said in a statement. Lasmo shares the NC174 field in the Murzuk basin in southwestern Libya with Italian oil company Agip and a South Korean consortium led by Pedco. [Reuter]
19 February 1998: In the United States, the White House said on Monday it had no credible evidence to back up a congressional report that Iraq farmed out deadly weapon components and SCUD missiles to sympathetic Arab states, including Libya, Sudan, Yemen and Algeria. "We have no credible evidence that Iraq has exported weapons of mass destruction technology to other countries since the (1991) Gulf War,'' said a White House official, reading prepared guidance. [Reuter]
19 February 1998: Libyan Prime Minister Mohamed al-Mangoush arrived in Tunis on Tuesday for talks with Tunisian officials on boosting economic ties, officials said. Al-Mangoush, who is on his first official trip abroad since taking office on 29 December, was to co-chair with Tunisian counterpart Hamed Karoui a meeting of the High Commission for cooperation between the two countries. [Reuter]
17 February 1998: Libya's first envoy to the Vatican invited Pope John Paul on Monday to make his first visit to Libya. Hussein Fu'ad al-Ka'bazi said he hoped that "one day Your Holiness will deign to visit'' Libya. The new envoy made the invitation in his written speech at a credentials presentation ceremony at the Vatican. The Vatican established full diplomatic ties with Libya last March. [Reuter]
17 February 1998: An envoy of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein briefed Col Mu'mmar al-Qadhafi on Sunday night on Iraq's standoff with the United Nations over arms inspections, Iraqi diplomats said on Monday. They said Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Mohammed Hamza al-Zubeidi was due to leave Tripoli on Monday at the end of a North African tour during which he visited Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and Mauritania. [Reuter]
17 February 1998: The Iraqi authorities have denied reports that Baghdad has moved weapons of mass destruction to Libya and Sudan. Iraqi television said the allegations came from a leaked United States congressional report, but had been rejected by the government as American propaganda. [BBC]
15 February 1998: An official in the economic department in the Arab League said that Libya informed the Arab League general trusteeship that it has decided to lift all taxes and customs duties from all goods produced in Arab states. The source said Libya is the first Arab country to cancel all taxes and customs duties. [Arabic News]
15 February 1998: Iraqi envoy visits Libya over crisis on arms inspections. [AFP]
15 February 1998: The Malawi president arrives in Libya. [AFP]
13 February 1998: Libya has threatened to cancel oil and other contracts with Canadian and Australian firms if Canada and Australia join a threatened U.S. attack on Iraq, the official Libyan news agency JANA said on Wednesday. It quoted an "authorised source'' at the Libyan foreign ministry as saying that Libya "would take measures to cancel contracts and deals signed with Canadian and Australian companies in case their countries took part with the American forces in aggression ...''
"The source confirmed that cancellation would include all deals and contracts, whether in trade or in oil, with companies of both countries,'' JANA said. [Reuter]
13 February 1998: A joint Tunisian-Libyan bank, Banque Arabe Tuniso-Libyenne de Developpement et de Commerce Exterieur (BTL) has received 25 million dinars ($21.5 million) in fresh cash representing the last quarter of the two countries' subscriptions to its capital, bankers said on Tuesday. They told Reuters the bank's capital stands now at 100 million dinars. Tunisia and Libya each contributed 12.5 million dinars, they added. BTL was established in 1984 and is jointly owned by Tunisian state-controlled bodies and the Arab Libyan Foreign Bank, controlled by the Libyan state. ($-1.1606 dinar) [Reuter]
10 February 1998: Libyan television said that Col Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi made a phone call to Algerian President Liamine Zeroual, during which the two discussed current issues. Libyan sources said that the talks addressed the Iraqi crisis. The sources also said the Algerian president asked the Arab countries to support the Algerian government, which refuses any European interference in Algerian interior affairs. [Arabic News]
9 February 1998: Libya's Colonel Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi said in an interview published on Sunday he would like to meet the Pope. "It would give me a lot of pleasure to meet John Paul II,'' al-Qadhafi told Italy's La Stampa newspaper. "Our relations with the Vatican are excellent.'' He added: "I would have a lot of things to say to the Pope but I don't intend revealing what they are in advance.'' The Vatican established full diplomatic ties with Libya last year. [Reuter]
6 February 1998: Libya, Sudan, Mali, Niger and Chad have signed a pact establishing a grouping of Sahel and Sahara states to enhance ties between them, the official Libyan radio reported on Thursday. A summit on Wednesday night in Tripoli "proclaimed the establishment of the Sahel and Sahara states grouping and signed a pact establishing it,'' said the radio. Tunisia and Egypt attended as observers at a ministerial level. [Reuter and CNN]
6 February 1998: Secretary of the foreign affairs in Libya, Omar al-Muntasir, on Wednesday met in Tripoli with a Spanish state official for foreign cooperation for the Spanish Foreign Ministry, who is currently visiting Libya. [Arabic News]
3 February 1998: Eritrea President Issaias Afeworki arrived Saturday in Tripoli to begin a four-day official visit to Libya. Afeworki held two hours of talks with Col. Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi. Due to the embargo on Libya, the Eritrean President arrived in Tripoli by road after a stop-over in Jerba, Tunisia. [PANA]
3 February 1998: A group of Czech skinheads attacked the son of the Libyan ambassador to Prague, causing him to be hospitalised, a television report said. [AFP]
1 February 1998: An academic study was issued by the Center for the Political and Strategic Studies in the Egyptian al-Ahram Press Establishment on the development and the implications of the economic sanctions on development in Libya, Iraq, and Sudan. In Libya, the losses resulting from the imposition of sanctions were great. An official Libyan report issued last December by the Libyan Foreign Ministry said the international sanctions caused Libya a loss of $24 billion and that 17,000 sick Libyan citizens have been on the waiting list for treatment abroad. The death toll increased among the sick as a result of those sanctions. [Arabic News]
1 February 1998: Algerian-Libyan relations have improved recently after they had been strained following the expulsion of a group of Algerian citizens, who were subjected to beatings in a detention camp near the Libyan-Algerian border two months ago. Sources said this improvement came in response to a western plan by NATO to assign forces for peacekeeping operations in the North African region. [Arabic News]
1 February 1998: Systematic abuse of human rights kept many authoritarian governments in power last year, the U.S. State Department said Friday in its closely watched annual report on rights observance around the world. The report singled out continuing major violations by governments in Libya and few other countries. [Reuter]
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