News and Views

May 1998

30 May 1998: Kenya announced on Thursday it had re-established diplomatic relations with Libya, 11 years after they were severed. A Foreign Ministry statement, confirming a prior announcement by Tripoli, said links were cut in 1987 because Libyan diplomats in Nairobi were involved in actions incompatible with their status. "The two governments have since resolved these differences,'' the statement said. [Reuters]
30 May 1998: Libya has put out tenders to build a multi-billion dollar, 3,170 kilometre railway network to be completed by the year 2002, the head of the project said on Thursday. "The project including 2,178 kilometres of railway (running) east-west and 992 kilometres (running) north-south is worth several billion dollars,'' Engineer Mohamed Abdel-Samad Ali, Director General of the Libyan Railways Projects General Authority, told Reuters in an interview. [Reuters]

27 May 1998: The European Union [EU] reserves the right to complain to the World Trade Organization (WTO) if the United States punishes a European company for investing in Libya, European Trade Commissioner Sir Leon Brittan said Tuesday. Brittan said the EU retained that option despite a deal with Washington last week aimed at ending a bitter dispute over U.S. sanctions laws discouraging investment in Cuba, Iran and Libya. [Reuters]
27 May 1998: The Lebanese government yesterday approved the re-opening of the maritime transportation line between Lebanon and Libya as a means of strengthening economic ties and facilitating the exchange of agricultural and industrial products. Agriculture minister Shawki Fakhoury yesterday informed Libyan transportation minister Ezzeddine al-Hanshiri of the decision during a meeting. [Daily Star]
27 May 1998: A group of 18 influential U.S. senators is urging the U.S. State Department not to waive sanctions against foreign companies that invest in Libya's oil or natural gas industry. The senators are worried that the department's move last week not to impose sanctions against three companies developing a huge natural gas field in Iran might be extended to similar business deals in Libya. [Reuters]

25 May 1998: The Libyan newsletter "Talayi Libya" reports that a group of Libyan militants tried to assassinate Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi's son [al-Sa'di] in Tajoura near the Libyan capital Tripoli. The newsletter which is published abroad said that one of al-Sa'di's body guards was killed in the assassination attempt. Talayi Libya did not report any further details.
25 May 1998: The Czech Republic is trying to recover $270 million owed by Libya on weapons and military equipment delivered during the communist era, the Dnes newspaper reported Saturday. Czech officials approached one firm, the Falkon Capital Company, in a bid to be reimbursed, but no contract has been signed to date, the paper quoted official sources as saying. Libya is the Czech Republic's third-largest debtor, after Syria ($700 million) and Russia ($3.5 billion). [AFP]
Libyan History in Maps in ""

22 May 1998: Italian state-controlled oil and gas company ENI can invest in Libya and Iran after a United States-European deal headed off the threat of U.S. trade sanctions, Italy's Foreign Trade Minister Augusto Fantozzi said. "Eni is free to go ahead with investment in Iran and Libya, which have been waiting for Italian investment for quite some time,'' Fantozzi said outside an export conference. [Reuters]
22 May 1998: The Malteze newspaper L-Orizzont reports that Malteze Foreign Minister, speaking in Colombia on Tuesday at ministerial meeting of Non-Aligned Movement, called for action to ease tension in Mediterranean, including review of sanctions against Libya and progress on Palestinian and Cyprus issues. [Reuters]
21 May 1998: This week's U.S. decision to waive sanctions against three foreign firm over a gas investment in Iran had no bearing on Libya, a State Department spokesman said Tuesday. "We have made no decision with respect to petroleum investments in Libya,'' the spokesman said. The 1996 U.S. Iran and Libya Sanctions Act (ILSA) penalizes foreign firms that invest more than $20 million a year in the oil or gas sectors of those countries, which Washington accuses of sponsoring terrorism. [Reuters]
21 May 1998: Energy investors in Libya confess they are still in the dark on whether the U.S. decision to waive sanctions against foreign investors in an Iranian gas project puts them in the clear. While overshadowed by high-profile exchanges on Iran, Libya has also been shackled by the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act (ILSA) threatening measures against firms investing in either country's energy sector. "We don't yet know if there will be a waiver for Libya,'' said an official with Norway's Saga, one of the country's most recent explorers. "All the discussion on ILSA has been linked to Iran and we just don't know how it will affect us.'' [Reuters]

17 May 1998: Libya on Thursday said it was "astonished'' at U.S. condemnation of India's nuclear tests and sanctions imposed on New Delhi. "This affair re-affirms once again America's policy of double standards,'' the Libyan JANA news agency said. "Although we do not defend any nuclear tests ... we are astonished at America's rush to denounce the Indian nuclear tests ... at a time when America does not move at all towards Israeli possession of a huge arsenal...of biological and chemical weapons and nuclear warheads.'' [Reuters]
17 May 1998: Swedish firm Lundin Oil said on Thursday it may start pumping crude at its Libyan En Naga North field next year pending official approval of its development plans. ``We are hoping to get the development plan approved before the end of this year and will implement it as soon as possible,'' managing director Magnus Nordin told Reuters by telephone from Stockholm. [Reuters]
14 May 1998: Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe met Col Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi in Tripoli on Wednesday and called for lifting sanctions imposed on Libya over the Lockerbie affair, state-run Libyan radio said. Since 1992, Libya has been under U.N. Security Council sanctions, including an air embargo, for failing to hand over two Libyan suspects in the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am airliner over Lockerbie. Libyan radio said Mugabe arrived in Tripoli on Tuesday and that the meeting was attended by the two countries foreign affairs ministers. [Reuters]
14 May 1998: Libya, an important market for Australian cattle, has failed in an attempt to use its burgeoning imports as a lever to restore diplomatic ties with Australia, officials said on Tuesday. Libya, which last year purchased $32 million worth of Australian cattle after switching imports from Ireland, had attempted to link new contracts with the resumption of diplomatic ties. But Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) said on Tuesday it would not accede to a representation by the Cattle Council of Australia (CCA) that ties with Libya -- severed in 1987 -- be restored. [Reuters]
11 May 1998: European Union and United States officials are holding more high-level meetings as they push for a settlement of a dispute over U.S. sanctions laws [against Libya, Iran and Cuba] in time for a summit in 10 days, EU sources said Friday. European Trade Commissioner Sir Leon Brittan and U.S. Undersecretary of State Stuart Eizenstat were meeting in London Friday afternoon to discuss the Helms-Burton Act and the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act, Brittan's spokesman Nigel Gardner said. The two men also talked for two hours on Thursday. ``The dialogue is certainly intensifying ... We are cautiously optimistic. A deal is not yet in the bag,'' Gardner told reporters. [Reuters]

8 May 1998: Today marks the 14th anniversary of the 8th of May 1984 when some members of the National Front for the Salvation of Libya, lead by Ahmad Hwas [pictured,] enterd Libya in an attempt to overthrow Col Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi. Some of those who participated in that attempt were killed while fighting government troops in Bab al 'aziziya where Col Qadhafi's headquarters are. Libyan government reports admitted that there was a fight between the NFSL fighters and government troops but suggested that the fight happened outside Qadhafi's barrackes. More details
8 May 1998: A trade agreement under which Libya will provide Morocco with crude oil worth $100 million and be paid in goods came into force this month, a senior Trade Ministry official said on Wednesday. "In exchange for the import of $100 million worth of oil, Morocco may export a variety of goods'' to Libya, the official told Reuters. "A Moroccan ministerial delegation is due to visit Libya at the end of the month to finalise the technical modalities,'' he added. [Reuters]
8 May 1998: Libya and South Africa have signed a cooperation accord in economics, culture, agriculture, information and energy. They will also cooperate in such other domains as investment, communication, rail transport and technical training. A protocol agreement to this effect was signed Sunday in Tripoli between Omar al-Montassir [pictured,] Libyan Secretary of External Relations and International Cooperation, and Aziz Pahad, the South African deputy minister of foreign affairs. [PANA]
5 May 1998: United Arab Emirates "Gulf Times" newspaper reports that Gulf Arab states are expected to ask the United States to unblock funds worth $71 million of the Abu Dhabi-based Arab Bank for Investment and Foreign Trade (Arbift) during a meeting in Washington on 21-22 May. The funds were frozen five and a half years ago because Libya is one of its shareholders. [Reuters]
5 May 1998: Egyptian "al-Jomhuriya" newspaper reports that Libyan authorities have seized two Egyptian fishing boats with 30 people on board. This raises to 22 the number of Egyptian boats seized by Libya. [Reuters]
Listen to the lovely Libyan music in Libyana

3 May 1998: Colonel Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi had been expected to lead a summit Saturday of 10 African leaders whom he had invited the day before to take part in prayers marking the beginning of the Muslim new year. But no summit took place, and there was no immediate explanation why. A mini summit was held, but only al-Qadhafi and the presidents of Chad, Sudan and Niger were in attendance. [Reuters]
3 May 1998: In a speech to the Chadian national assembly Saturday, Col Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi criticised France's role in Africa saying that the continent needed development aid and investment, not military assistance. Earlier, Qadhafi chaired a mini-summit in the former French colony's capital N'Djamena of a regional economic and political grouping of Saharan and Sahelian states that he launched last year. [Reuters]
3 May 1998: Col Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi warned Chadian legislators Saturday to be wary of U.S. involvement in oil exploration, citing Libyan experience. "The Americans will never tell you where the oil really is,'' Qadhafi told the National Assembly. He claimed American exploration companies had misled officials in Libya about the true location and extent of petroleum deposits. A consortium led by Esso Africa, a subsidiary of the U.S. oil company Exxon, has discovered oil in southern Chad and is hoping to begin producing as many as 200,000 barrels a day by 2002. [AP]
3 May 1998: Colonel Mu'mmar al-Qadhafi, is reported to have chaired the first summit of a new regional grouping set up by Libya. Libyan television said Col Qadhafi met the Presidents of Chad, Sudan, and Niger in the Chadian capital, N'Djamena. It said the leaders decided that more needed to be done to establish institutions to help the new group, called the Community of Sahel-Saharan states, fulfil its role. The grouping was launched in Libya last year. [BBC]
2 May 1998: Several African leaders are due to meet in the Chadian capital, Njamena, later today for a summit of a new regional grouping, set up by Colonel Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi last February. It includes Chad, Libya, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Gambia, Malawi and Sudan. Yesterday, Col Qadhafi, who's in Chad on his visit since 1981, led thousands of Muslims in Friday prayers. Last year, he participated in similar mass prayers in Nigeria and Niger. [BBC]
1 May 1998: Colonel Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi, has begun a three-day visit to neighbouring Chad - his first since a long-running territorial war between the two countries ended in 1989. Because of the United Nations ban on air travel to and from Libya, he travelled overland across the desert in a convoy of more than 300 hundred vehicles. On Friday, Col al-Qadhafi is due to lead a session of prayers which is also to be attended by his Chadian counterpart, Idriss Deby, and 10 other African heads of state. He will also chair a meeting of the Community of Sahel-Saharan States, a new regional grouping consisting of Chad, Libya, Niger, Nigeria, Mali and Burkina Faso. [BBC]
1 May 1998: Col Mu'mmar al-Qadhafi is to host a regional gathering of 10 heads of state, who will also gather for prayers Friday to mark the Muslim new year, which began Monday. In addition to al-Qadhafi and Deby, the leaders of Senegal, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Mali, Nigeria, Gambia, Malawi and Sudan are to attend the summit Saturday of the Libyan-created Organization of Saharan and Sahelian nations. Qadhafi staged similar events in Niger and Nigeria last year, angering the United Nations because he violated air sanctions against Libya by flying to the two countries. [AP]
1 May 1998: Col Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi swept into the Chadian capital at the head of a 315-vehicle convoy Thursday, arriving for a three-day visit that includes a prayer session and a regional summit. It was the Libyan leader's first visit to his southern neighbor since 1981, during the Libyan occupation of Chad. Five days ago, Qadhafi traveled overland from Libya to northern Chad where he was met by President Idriss Deby, who helped lead the Chadian forces that drove Libyan troops out of the country in 1987. [AP]
1 May 1998: Libya's ambassador to Chad, Grain Saleh Grain, told reporters that al-Qadhafi had brought [to chad] five generators, enough to supply the capital in power, hundreds of thousands of litres of different types of fuel and a promise to vaccinate the nation's children against polio and meningitis. Al-Qadhafi also brought rice, olive oil, flour, milk, tractors, ambulances, cars for the presidency, government ministers and other departments and a gift of 900 million CFA francs ($1.45 million). The goods arrived by road on Wednesday. [Reuters]
1 May 1998: A special Czech government panel said on Wednesday that the sale of several Czech hotels to the Malta-based Corinthia Group, co-owned by a Libyan firm, did not violate United Nations resolutions or local law. The United States warned its citizens in March that staying in hotels acquired by Corinthia, including the high-rise Prague Hotel Forum, could violate U.S. laws banning trade with Libya, which it regards as sponsoring terrorism. [Reuters]
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