Libya:
News and Views [ March 1999 ]


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Wednesday: 31 March, 1999: The planned trial of two Libyans accused of carrying out the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am Boeing 747 airliner over the Scottish town of Lockerbie could last several years, legal experts in Scotland say. The case will be heard under Scottish law at a converted airbase near Utrecht in the central Netherlands. ``If it goes the whole way, (the trial) could last a couple of years. And there could be an appeal,'' Alistair Bonnington, a law professor at the University of Glasgow, told a conference on Tuesday ahead of what is likely to be Scotland's most expensive and longest criminal case. [Reuters]
Wednesday: 31 March, 1999: Libya wants the Security Council to ask why the United States is still offering a reward for the apprehension of two men wanted in the bombing of an airliner over Lockerbie, Scotland, when arrangements for their handover have already been made. In a letter to council president Qin Huasun of China, Libyan U.N. representative Abuzed Dorda said the Voice of America broadcast a U.S. government announcement last week offering a $2 million reward for information leading to the arrest of the two men accused of bombing Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie in December 1988 in which 270 people were killed. Dorda asked why the announcement was broadcast ``after the relevant agreements were reached through the secretary-general of the United Nations'' and with the mediation of South Africa and Saudi Arabia. [Reuters]
Wednesday: 31 March, 1999: South African President Nelson Mandela telephoned Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi Tuesday to assure him their deal for the surrender of two Libyans suspected of the 1988 Lockerbie airline bombing was going as planned. ``(Mandela) confirmed to brother leader (Qadhafi) that things were going as desired and in accordance with the agreement with the United Nations over the Lockerbie issue,'' the official Libyan news agency JANA, monitored in Tunis, said. South Africa and Saudi Arabia helped persuade Libya this month to agree to extradite the two men by April 6 for trial in the Netherlands under Scottish law and by a Scottish court. [Reuters[

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Sunday: 28 March, 1999: Results of African club soccer competition matches on Saturday: Champions League first round, second leg In Tunis: Esperance (Tunisia) 2 - Al-Mahalla (Libya) 0 [Reuters]

Saturday: 27 March, 1999: Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Washington has assured the United Nations that Libya will surrender the two suspects accused in the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am jet over Lockerbie, Scotland, by April 6. Prince Bandar bin Sultan, who helped persuade Libya to extradite the two for trial in the Netherlands, said ``everybody is on the same wavelength'' after meeting with Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Thursday. ``The details of the agreement are being worked out,'' he said, without revealing what date was being considered for the surrender of the suspects. Libya has set a date of no later than April 6. [Reuters]
Friday: 26 March, 1999: Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi on Thursday condemned NATO air strikes on Yugoslavia and demanded they be halted. ``They are illegitimate because they are done outside the United Nations charter,'' Qadhafi said in a statement read on Libyan television, monitored in Tunis. ``These military acts threaten peace in the Mediterranean and in Europe and action should be taken urgently to halt them.'' Qadhafi sent urgent messages to South African President Nelson Mandela, acting chairman of the Non-Aligned Movement, and to Burkina Faso's President Blaise Compaore, acting chairman of the Organisation of African Unity, urging them to intervene. [Reuters]
April demonstration update: in Arabic and in English

Thursday: 25 March, 1999: The Arab League has welcomed an announcement by the president of the United Nations Security Council, that sanctions against Libya will be suspended when it surrenders two suspects wanted for the bombing of an airliner over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in nineteen eighty-eight. The Arab League's secretary-general, Esmat Abdel Meguid said the organisation believes that the embargo against Libya has lasted too long. [BBC]
Thursday: 25 March, 1999: The handing over of two Libyan suspects in the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am airliner over Lockerbie, Scotland, was unconditional, South African President Nelson Mandela said in Cape Town on Tuesday. Speaking at his first official engagement since returning from Libya at the weekend, Mandela said there were no conditions attached to the delivery of the two men. "They will be delivered on or before the 6th of April. Collateral matters can be discussed separately, but the delivery is unconditional." Mandela was replying to whether the trial of six top officials of former United States President Ronald Reagan's administration might scupper the handing over. [SAPA-AFP]
Wednesday: 24 March, 1999: The Security Council assured Libya on Tuesday that United Nations sanctions would be suspended as soon as it handed over two suspects accused of the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am airliner over Lockerbie, Scotland. In a letter to Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Friday Libya agreed to surrender the two men to him no later than April 6, the first time a specific date had been mentioned for handing over the suspects to a Scottish court sitting in the Netherlands. [Reuters]
Wednesday: 24 March, 1999: OPEC ministers have signed an agreement to cut oil supplies by just over 1.7 million barrels per day (bpd), said Libyan Oil Minister Abdullah Salem al-Badri. ``Yes we have signed,'' al-Badri told reporters. ``We are happy, we have been asking for this for more than a year,'' said al-Badri. [Reuters]
Tuesday: 23 March, 1999: Libyans in the United States will be demonstrating on Saturday, the 10th of April, to protest against the human rights abuses of human rights by Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi's regime. The Organizing Committee for the April Demonstration said that "a demonstration will be held in front of the Libyan mission to the United Nations in New York at 10:00 AM on Saturday, April 10, 1999."
click here for a full text of the committee's statement ( in Arabic )
click here for a full text of the committee's statement ( in English )

Tuesday: 23 March, 1999: A Libyan court resumed on Monday its trial in absentia of nine former U.S. officials and servicemen, including one now dead, over a 1986 United States attack on Libya but immediately adjourned it again for six months, Libyan television said. The state-run television, monitored in Tunis, said that at the demand of the public prosecutor, the hearing would resume on September 22 to allow more time to ``arrest'' the eight surviving accused and bring them before the Tripoli criminal court. [Reuters]
Libya News List


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Sunday: 21 March, 1999: South African President Nelson Mandela told British Prime Minister Tony Blair Saturday that Libya would hand over two suspects accused of the 1988 Pan Am airliner bombing over Lockerbie for trial in the Netherlands. A spokeswoman for Blair's office said Mandela had confirmed in a telephone call with Blair Saturday that Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi will hand over the two suspects on or before April 6. ``The prime minister spoke to Nelson Mandela, who is now back in South Africa, at about 1830 GMT, and President Mandela told him that Qadhafi had agreed to hand over suspects on or before April 6,'' the spokeswoman said. [Reuters]
Sunday: 21 March, 1999: United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, sounding optimistic, said he was making arrangements to transfer for trial in the Netherlands two Libyan suspects accused of the 1988 Pan Am airliner bombing over Scotland. He issued a statement and spoke to reporters late Friday after receiving a letter from Libya that agreed to the surrender of the two men to the United Nations by April 6, the first time a specific date had been mentioned. Saying he was ``greatly encouraged by this development,'' Annan said necessary arrangements were being initiated for the handover, which Security Council resolutions say are the responsibility of his office. ``I think it has taken a while but it looks as if we are there,'' he said after his meeting with Abuzed Omar Dorda, Libya's U.N. ambassador who delivered the letter. [Reuters]
Sunday: 21 March, 1999: South Africa plans to soon set up a diplomatic mission in Libya, South African President Nelson Mandela said. Mandela's comments came in the wake of a joint initiative by South Africa and Saudi Arabia to convince Libya to extradite two agents to stand trial for the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. Libya has officially informed the United Nations that it will turn over the two suspects by April 6. [Reuters]
Main points of Libya's letter to the United Nations on Lockerbie

Saturday: 20 March, 1999: Libya officially informed the United Nations Friday it would turn over for trial by April 6 two men accused of blowing up a Pan Am airliner over Lockerbie, Scotland, in December 1988. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said he was ``greatly encouraged by this development and said necessary arrangements'' would now be initiated'' by his staff. Libya's U.N. ambassador, Abuzed Omar Dorda, delivered a letter to Annan in a hastily-arranged meeting after South African President Nelson Mandela announced in Tripoli that Libya had set a date for the handover to a Scottish court sitting in the Netherlands. [Reuters]
Saturday: 20 March, 1999: The United States reacted with weary skepticism Friday to reports of a breakthrough in attempts to arrange a trial in the Netherlands for two Libyans accused of blowing up Pan Am flight 103 over Scotland in 1988. A State Department official noted the many previous false signals Libya has given on whether it is about to surrender the men for trial by a Scottish court sitting in the Netherlands. ``There's a lot of skepticism. The test is when these guys turn up in the Netherlands for trial,'' the official said. [Reuters]
Saturday: 20 March, 1999: British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook on Friday applauded South African President Nelson Mandela for winning assurances on when Libya would hand over the Lockerbie airliner bombing suspects. However, Cook said he would not relax until the two men were in the Netherlands for trial. ``I welcome President Mandela's statement and am very much encouraged by what he has said,'' Cook said in a statement. [Reuters]
Friday: 19 March, 1999: Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi said Friday he accepted assurances given by South African President Nelson Mandela and Saudi Arabian King Fahd over the planned trial of Lockerbie airliner bombing suspects. ``When Saudi King Fahd and President Mandela ask me to let it into their hands, it would not be reasonable for me to set conditions,'' Qadhafi said in a speech in Tripoli. The Libyan leader was talking in presence of Mandela and Saudi envoy Prince Bandar who stood up and embraced him on that statement. ``Libya has decided...to give a final date for the handing over for trial in the Netherlands of the two Lockerbie suspects,'' Mandela said. He said Libya had asked him to set the handover date and this date could be April 6 or before. [Reuters]
Friday: 19 March, 1999: South African President Nelson Mandela flew into Libya on Thursday for talks with Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi on the trial of two Libyans in the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am jetliner. The Libyan leader said earlier this month that he has more faith in Mandela's assurances than in the U.N. Security Council. Libyan state television interrupted a news program to broadcast live the arrival of Mandela in a South African jetliner at the Tripoli International Airport. He then drove to Qadhafi's residential compound. ``King Fahd of Saudi Arabia and myself have given full support to our brother leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi,'' Mandela said in a brief speech to the hundreds of people gathered outside the compound. [AP]
Friday: 19 March, 1999: A Libyan Arab Airlines (LAA) plane took off on Thursday from Tripoli airport carrying Moslem pilgrims to Saudi Arabia in defiance of United Nations sanctions imposed on Libya over the Lockerbie issue. Libyan state television, monitored in Tunis, broadcast the departure of the LAA Boeing 727 packed with pilgrims bound for the holy shrines of Mecca. [Reuters]
Friday: 19 March, 1999: The Arab League on Thursday said it backed the lifting of U.N. sanctions against Libya as well as the country's request for a neutral and fair trial for two Libyan suspects in the 1988 Lockerbie airliner bombing. ``The ministers expressed their strong concern about the difficult circumstances because of the sanctions on Libya's people,'' said the statement issued by the 22-member Arab league on the second and last day of talks by its foreign ministers. [Reuters]
         

Wednesday: 17 March, 1999: South African President Nelson Mandela will meet Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi in Tripoli on Friday in an apparent effort to break the deadlock over the 1988 Pan Am jet bombing over Lockerbie Scotland. ``On his way home from Stockholm on March 18 he will stop over in Tripoli,'' Mandela's spokesman Parks Mankahlana told Reuters by telephone from Denmark on Tuesday. Mandela is due to end a week-long tour to the Netherlands and the Nordic nations late Thursday and then go to Libya early on Friday. [Reuters]
Monday: 15 March, 1999: African club competition matches played at the weekend: al-Mahalli (Libya) 1 - Esperance (Tunisia) 2 [Reuters]

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Sunday: 14 March, 1999: Libyan leader Colonel Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi, is returning home after a week-long visit to Egypt. He set off from the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria and made his way towards the land border between the two countries. During his visit, Colonel Qadhafi had four meetings with the Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, which are believed to have focussed on the Lockerbie bombing case. The United States and Britain have threatened to step up sanctions against Libya unless it hands over the two suspects in the case by the end of this month. [BBC]
Saturday: 13 March, 1999: Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi urged the United States and Britain on Friday to stop their ``aggression against Iraq'' immediately, saying the near daily airstrikes humiliate Arabs, Libya's official news agency reported. Qadhafi also criticized Defense Secretary William Cohen's recent visit to Persian Gulf states, Egypt, Jordan and Israel, JANA said in a report faxed to The Associated Press in Cairo. The aim of Cohen's trip was ``to weaken Arabs spirits and give the impression that Arabs support the American and British stance toward Iraq,'' JANA quoted Qadhafi as telling Libyans in the northern Egyptian city of Alexandria. [Reuters]
Friday: 12 March, 1999: A leading Libyan lawyer said on Thursday that a French court ruling condemning six Libyans to life in prison for the 1989 bombing of a French airliner which killed 170 people lacked ``full evidence.'' The official Libyan news agency JANA, in the first Libyan comment on the trial that ended on Wednesday, quoted an unnamed dean of the Libyan barristers association as saying that the accused, who were tried in their absence by the French court, should be considered innocent until they are present at a trial. But in Paris, Foreign Ministry spokesman Francois Rivasseau told reporters Tripoli had agreed in advance of the trial it would punish those found guilty. ``Libya must assume the consequences of the verdict according to the commitments it made, notably in a letter by Colonel (Mu'ammar) al-Qadhafi to the President of the Republic (Jacques Chirac) in March 1996. [Reuters]
Friday: 12 March, 1999: United States Defense Secretary William Cohen said after talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak Thursday he was not aware of progress in the dispute with Libya over the 1988 bombing of an airliner over Lockerbie, Scotland. ``I talked with President Mubarak and he is continuing to meet with (Libyan leader) Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi,'' Cohen told a news conference. ``I can't say progress has been made. Talks continue and Qadhafi continues to weigh whether he is going to comply.'' The United States and Britain gave Libya an informal 30-day deadline on February 26 to hand over for trial in The Netherlands two Libyans accused of carrying out the Lockerbie bombing. [Reuters]
Thursday: 11 March, 1999: Libyan leader Col. Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi, has denied speculations that his current official visit to Egypt was motivated by the Lockerbie issue. He told a group of writers, intellectuals and reporters, who visited him in his Bedoine tent in the garden of the Al-Kobba palace in Cairo, that the trip had been planned since 1998. The recent developments in the Lockerbie affair did not prompt this visit, which was postponed a few months ago "for health reasons," the Libyan leader stressed. Media organs in Cairo have speculated that the stalemate between Libya and the US and Britain over the bombing a Pan Am plane in 1988 over Lockerbie, Scotland, by Libyan agents was at the centre of talks between Qadhafi and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, since the Libyan leader's arrival Saturday. [PANA]
Thursday: 11 March, 1999: Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi on Wednesday accused the United States of ``thuggery'' in getting the U.N. Security Council to endorse decisions on sanctions. ``The Security Council has no desire or ability of its own,'' Qadhafi said in a speech at Cairo University. ``Resolutions are imposed on it. A document comes from the United States and orders the council to stamp it. This is American thuggery.'' Qadhafi made no direct reference to an informal 30-day U.S.-British deadline issued on February 26 for Libya to hand over the Lockerbie suspects for trial in the Netherlands. [Reuters]
Thursday: 11 March, 1999: Representatives of Libya , Cuba and Hungary on Wednesday joined a U.N. committee that deals with sometimes prickly issues between diplomats and the United States in its role as host to the world body. The committee on relations with the host country, as it is officially known, was established in 1971 with 15 members. It deals with matters ranging from delegates' parking and visa problems to issues of diplomatic immunity and nonpayment of debts. The General Assembly last December endorsed a recommendation to increase the committee's membership to 19. [Reuters]
Thursday: 11 March, 1999: Egypt and Libya held talks this week on two pipeline projects, together expected to cost $1 billion, to exchange Libyan oil for Egyptian gas, an oil ministry official said on Wednesday. The official, who asked not to be named, said Oil Minister Hamdi el-Banbi had discussed the projects with visiting Libyan Energy Secretary Abdullah Salem al-Badri on Tuesday. The neighbouring countries plan to build two pipelines, each around 360 km (216 miles) long, along the Mediterranean coast. [Reuters]
Thursday: 11 March, 1999: A French court on Wednesday handed down life sentences to six Libyans, including Colonel Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi's brother-in-law, for the 1989 bombing of a French airliner over Africa which killed 170 people. None of the six was present in court or on French territory. Because the trial took place in their absence, they will have to be tried again if they ever fall into French hands. The verdict was handed down at a trial which lasted only three days and during which State Prosecutor Gino Necchi said evidence showed Libyan authorities had orchestrated the attack. Lawyer Francis Szpiner, representing 77 families of the victims, told reporters after the ruling: ``We now have to do everything necessary to make sure Libya applies the verdict.'' [Reuters]
Wednesday: 10 March, 1999: Libya has complained to the Security Council that two Israeli helicopters hovered briefly near a Libyan vessel off Beirut on Jan. 2 in what it called a violation of international law by Israel. In a letter dated March 4 and circulated on Monday, Libyan U.N. representative Abuzed Dorda said it was ``a further violation by Israel of all the precepts and norms of international law relating to the freedom of shipping in the region.'' He said it ``reflects the hostility and deep-rooted malice of that entity'' and called on the United Nations ``to play its part in maintaining international peace and security by putting a halt to such unwise behaviour.'' [Reuters]
Wednesday: 10 March, 1999: Arab League Secretary-General Esmat Abdel-Meguid said on Monday he expected the prospects for a solution of the Lockerbie dispute to become clearer in the next few days. He was speaking after discussions with President Hosni Mubarak, who held extensive talks with visiting Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi in Cairo at the weekend. ``There are serious efforts on the part of Saudi Arabia and South Africa to solve this problem, which is encouraging,'' Abdel-Meguid told reporters, adding that his assessment was that ``the picture will be clarified in the next few days.'' [Reuters]
Wednesday: 10 March, 1999: Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi and Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, both visiting Egypt, met in Cairo overnight, security sources said on Tuesday. Egypt's Middle East News Agency, monitored by the British Broadcasting Corporation, said Arafat had briefed Qadhafi on stalled Middle East peace-making. It said the two men examined Arab, regional and international issues, including the Lockerbie case. [Reuters]
Wednesday: 10 March, 1999: A lawyer for relatives of the 170 people killed in the 1989 bombing of a French UTA airliner over Africa called on Tuesday the blast a ``state crime.'' Lawyer Francis Szpiner told a Paris court on the second day of the trial in absentia of six Libyan officials, including the brother-in-law of leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi, that he hoped Tripoli would turn over the suspects for trial. ``Who knows how long the Libyan regime can continue to cover up its activities?,'' he added, urging the Paris criminal court to find all six guilty. [Reuters]

Tuesday: 9 March, 1999: Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi, on an official five-day visit to Egypt, declared Monday that it was necessary to pool together the resources of Libya and Egypt "for the well-being of the two sister peoples." Addressing a crowd that met him at Fayoum, 70 km south of Cairo, he underlined the need to "to put the Nile waters and other Egypt's water reserves on the one hand, Libya's oil and gas on the other, in the service of the socio- economic development of the two countries." Libya as a desert country, he explained, is not in a position to host a large population. But it has large oil and gas reserves that should be exploited by Egypt due to its water resources to guarantee the development of the sub-region. [PANA]

Monday: 8 March, 1999: Six Libyan officials including the brother-in-law of Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi will be tried in absentia this week for allegedly masterminding the 1989 bombing of a French UTA airliner in which 170 people died. The hearing opens in a Paris court on Monday and is expected to last only three days. The prosecution say they have a watertight case against the Libyan secret services and no defence is being offered. France did not demand the extradition of the suspects, preferring to try them in their absence and then seek action from Tripoli if they were found guilty. [Reuters]
Sunday: 7 March, 1999: Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi discussed his Lockerbie impasse with the West Saturday in talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak expected to last at least another day, presidential sources said. ``Certainly, the Lockerbie affair imposed itself,'' Egyptian Information Minister Safwat el-Sherif told reporters after the first of Saturday's two meetings, held in a tent on the lawn of the Qubba presidential palace. ``The two leaders also discussed Arab causes, including the Iraq crisis and the Middle East peace process, and bilateral issues,'' Sherif added. Qadhafi will hold a news conference at the end of his talks with Mubarak Monday, he said. [Reuters]
Saturday: 6 March, 1999: Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi traveled to Egypt on Friday for talks on the proposed handover of the Lockerbie bombing suspects for trial, Egyptian officials said. Qadhafi crossed into Egypt in a long motorcade of limousines and security vans, the officials said, speaking on condition on anonymity. Libya is under a U.N. embargo that bans flights to and from the country. Qadhafi stopped first at a tent pitched outside the northern coastal town of Marsa Matruh, where Egyptian officials met him, the officials said. After prayers in Marsa Matruh, Qadhafi drove to Cairo to meet with President Hosni Mubarak, the officials said. [AP]
Saturday: 6 March, 1999: Britain has asked all 30 nations who lost citizens in the 1988 Lockerbie airliner bombing to lobby Libya to release the two main suspects for trial, Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said on Friday. Cook said the latest statements from Tripoli indicating it was increasingly prepared to release the pair were hopeful but he was taking nothing for granted. Last month Britain and the United States said Libya had 30 days to decide whether to hand over the two men -- said to be Libyan intelligence officers -- for trial before a Scottish court in the Netherlands. [Reuters]
Saturday: 6 March, 1999: Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Moussa said on Friday he expected a solution to the Lockerbie crisis ``within the next few weeks.'' ``There are great prospects for optimism in this question,'' Moussa said at the end of a two-day European-Mediterranean foreign ministers' meeting in Malta's capital Valletta. He said the settlement of the dispute between Libya and Britain and the United States, ``should be within the next few weeks.'' ``We hope so. There are positive signs from both sides,'' he added. [Reuters]
Saturday: 6 March, 1999: Six Maltese men employed by France Telecom SA to lay a cable in Libyan waters were detained on their boat in a Libyan port for five days after authorities claimed they did not have a work permit, the Times of Malta reported on Friday. It said the men were released late on Thursday, but it was unclear what had made the authorities change their mind. [Reuters]
Friday: 5 March, 1999: Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi starts a week-long visit to Egypt on Friday amid signs that a long chapter in the Lockerbie saga may be drawing to a close. Egyptian presidential sources said on Thursday Qadhafi's motorcade would reach the border at 11 a.m. (0900 GMT). The Libyan leader will perform midday prayers, stay overnight in the coast town of Marsa Matruh and drive to Cairo on Saturday. The sources said security would be extremely tight and no media coverage would be permitted until Qadhafi reaches Cairo. [Reuters]
Friday: 5 March, 1999: Libyan state media claimed at the weekend that Namibian President Sam Nujoma had broken a United Nations embargo by flying into and out of the country. In fact Nujoma took steps to avoid breaking the UN embargo during his three-day trip by flying to Tunisia first and then crossing the border by road. Namibia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Nujoma had flown to Djerba in Tunisia and from there he crossed into Libya by road. [PANA]
Friday: 5 March, 1999: According to media reports, there was concern in Washington that South Africa and Saudi Arabia, which have jointly mounted an effort to persuade Col Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi to surrender the two Libyans accused of the Lockerbie bombing, might offer concessions that were not acceptable to the United States and Britain. The reports said the US and British governments had asked UN secretary-general KofiAnnan to handle all communications with Libya and to make all statements in the issue. The two governments had urged him to discourage further involvement by South Africa and Saudi Arabia, the reports said. But South African presidential spokesman Parks Mankahlana said yesterday that Mr. Mandela had spoken to Colonel Qadhafi by telephone earlier this week in an effort to end the dispute, although he acknowledged that it was up to Mr. Annan to make public statements on the issue. [PANA]

Thursday: 4 March, 1999: The Lockerbie bombing affair will top the agenda at talks between Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi and Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo, Egypt's foreign minister said on Wednesday. Egyptian presidential sources said on Tuesday Qadhafi was due to arrive in Egypt on Friday, but it was not immediately clear whether he would meet Mubarak on the same day. ``Lockerbie will be at the top of discussions between President Mubarak and Colonel Qadhafi,'' Foreign Minister Amr Moussa said. [Reuters]
Thursday: 4 March, 1999: Saudi Arabia said it sought to serve the Arab nation in trying to help resolve the dispute over a trial of two Libyans accused of the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am airliner over Lockerbie, Scotland. The Saudi Press Agency (SPA) quoted Defence Minister Prince Sultan saying late on Tuesday that the Saudi role, led by King Fahd, was ``firstly a service to the Arab nation and secondly to reach justice and end this present problem as much as possible.'' Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi said on Tuesday that a deal on trying the two Libyans in a Scottish court sitting in the Netherlands was near. He said Saudi Arabia had encouraged Libya to accept (the deal.) [Reuters]
Thursday: 4 March, 1999: Arab League Secretary-General Esmat Abdel-Meguid said on Wednesday he would meet Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi in Cairo next week for talks expected to focus on the Lockerbie airliner bombing affair. ``I will meet Qadhafi next week in Cairo,'' Abdel-Meguid told reporters at the league's Cairo headquarters. [Reuters]
Thursday: 4 March, 1999: The Middle East Economic Survey reported that Libya earned $5.8 Billion from oil exports in 1998, as against $9.0 Billion in 1997, a decline of 36%. MEES also reported that Libya's economy has barely grown in several years, registering 0.7% growth in 1996, 0.6% in 1997 and a possible decline of 1% in 1998. Wages have lagged behind inflation, and unemployment has worsened to an estimated 30%, especially among the country's large population of young people.

Wednesday: 3 March, 1999: Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi said Tuesday that a deal to put on trial the two suspects in the Lockerbie airliner bombing was near, adding that he had no doubt about the fairness of a Scottish court. ``A final agreement is expected,'' Qadhafi said in a speech in the coastal city of Benghazi broadcast live by Libyan television monitored in Tunis. ``I ask the Libyan people to trust South African President Nelson Mandela and Saudi Arabia, who asked us to accept (the deal),'' he added. ``It is not possible to doubt the fairness of a Scottish court, because it would not be exposed to pressures from intelligence services nor to a British government order over whatever ruling. It would not include jurors and would sit in the Netherlands not in Britain,'' he added. [Reuters]
Wednesday: 3 March, 1999: British officials said on Tuesday they had no independent confirmation of a reported breakthrough deal to put on trial the two Libyan suspects in the Lockerbie airliner bombing. ``We have seen the same reports as you,'' a Foreign Office spokesman said, commenting on a speech by Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi saying a final agreement was expected. ``Libya knows what it has to do and the ball is in their court,'' a spokesman for Prime Minister Tony Blair said. [Reuters]
Wednesday: 3 March, 1999: United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Tuesday he was encouraged by comments from Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi but had received no official response on the surrender of suspects accused of bombing a Pan Am jet over Scotland in 1988. Qadhafi, in a speech Tuesday in the coastal city of Benghazi, said that ``a final agreement is expected.'' He said he asked the Libyan people to trust South African President Nelson Mandela and Saudi Arabian officials who ``asked us to accept'' provisions for the handover of the two Libyans. Annan, in answer to questions at a news conference, said he had seen reports on Qadhafi's statement. ``If it is indeed accurate, it is an encouraging sign. I did not hear from leader Qadhafi,'' he said. [Reuters]
Wednesday: 3 March, 1999: South African President Nelson Mandela's verbal guarantees are sufficient to resolve the deadlock over the trial of two Libyans in the 1988 Pan Am bombing, Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi said Tuesday. ``Mandela's word is stronger than a Security Council resolution and stronger than any other commitments,'' Qadhafi said in a speech broadcast on Libyan television and monitored by The Associated Press in Cairo. ``Though the case goes over many bumps ... we hope that we will be able to reach the end peacefully,'' Qadhafi said. ``We are waiting for the final agreement,'' he said, without elaborating. [AP]

Tuesday: 2 March, 1999: Libya appeared Monday to back away from its claim that the two suspects in the Lockerbie bombing case should be tried in the International Court of Justice in The Hague rather than the Scottish court agreed to in a United Nations - brokered compromise. Asked if Tripoli now was insisting that the trial be held at the International Court of Justice, Libyan Ambassador Abuzed Omar Dorda told CNN: "We are still studying what we have received from the secretary-general ... and as soon as we come to a result from these studies, we will inform the secretary- general with our position." [CNN]
Tuesday: 2 March, 1999: Libya's United Nations ambassador complained to the United Nations on Monday about the United States and Britain wanting an answer within 30 days on whether Tripoli was going to surrender two men in the 1988 Pan Am jet bombing, diplomats reported. But they said the meeting between Ambassador Abuzed Omar Dorda and Secretary-General Kofi Annan was constructive and low-keyed with Libya giving no clues about the handover of the two suspects, accused of placing a bomb aboard Pan Am Flight 103 as it flew over Lockerbie, Scotland, on Dec. 12, 1988. A total of 270 people were killed in the crash. Dorda is expected to go to Tripoli shortly to discuss his government's next moves, the envoys said, adding that they did not believe negative statements from Libya over the weekend constituted Tripoli's final position. [Reuters]
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