News and Views [ June 1999 ]

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Wednesday: 30 June, 1999: The 1999 Special Olympics World Summer Games were officially opened Saturday in Raleigh, North Carolina, by a five-and-a-half hour ceremony. The largest team of the 150 participating countries was the US, with 2,762 athletes. The smallest was Libya, with just one athlete [ Naman Felfel, ] who received one of the loudest cheers of the night when he entered the stadium in his wheelchair. [Irish Times]

Tuesday: 29 June, 1999: Foreign ministers of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) begin a five-day meeting in Burkina Faso on Monday with sanctions against Libya, Iraq and Iran plus fighting in Kashmir high on the agenda. Burkina Faso's foreign minister, Youssouf Ouedraogo, told Reuters ministers from the 55 member states would examine the ``progress and positive measures taken by Libya to settle the crisis that pits it against the United States and United Kingdom.'' Quedraogo was referring to a 10-year manhunt by Britain and the U.S. for two suspects in the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am airliner over Lockerbie in Scotland that killed 270 people, which only ended when Libya handed over the two Libyans in April. [Reuters]
Tuesday: 29 June, 1999: CustomTracks Corporation today announced that it has received worldwide encryption export approval from the U.S. Department of Commerce for its new ZixIt(TM) Digital Signature and encryption technology. Under the terms of the export approval, CustomTracks may export ZixIt- enabled software using 1024-bit public key and Triple-DES encryption. Countries excluded from the approval are Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Serbia, Sudan, and Syria. [PRnewswire]

Sunday: 27 June, 1999: Several Latin American nations have begun a revolt in advance of next week's U.N. conference on population and development, saying they have reached their limit in making concessions to conservatives. The debate late Friday occurred during a closed-door meeting of a group of developing nations, known as the Group of 77, on such issues as sex education, women's rights and contraceptives. In order to reach a consensus among all the G-77 states, concessions often have to be made to a plethora of views, including conservative positions taken by Libya, Sudan and Morocco as well as Argentina, Nicaragua and Guatemala. [CNN]

Saturday: 26 June, 1999: The Clinton Administration will publish rules governing the sale of food and medicine to Iran, Sudan and Libya soon, a top U.S. Agriculture Department official said on Friday. ``We're getting pretty close,'' Chris Goldthwait, General Sales Manager at the department, told Reuters, noting that there were only one or two details that need to be finalised. ``That should be worked out in the next few days,'' he said. Agriculture Department officials estimate that the easing of sanctions on Iran, Libya and Sudan could boost U.S. wheat and corn exports by up to one million tonnes each annually. Of the three countries, Iran is considered to have the biggest potential. [Reuters]

Thursday: 24 June, 1999: Interior ministers from eight western Mediterranean states on Monday pledged close cooperation to fight terrorism, they said in a statement. The ministers from Algeria, France, Italy, Libya, Morocco, Portugal, Spain and Tunisia, gathered in a one-day conference in Algiers to discuss cooperation on security, border surveillance, illegal immigration and drugs smuggling. ``The ministers insisted on the priority to fight the terrorism scourge whatever its origins, causes or aims,'' the statement said. [Reuters]
Tuesday: 22 June, 1999: The Libyan government will pay $40 million to families of those killed in the 1989 bombing of a French jet, a leading Arabic weekly reported Monday. The London-based Al-Wasat said France and the government of Col. Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi have worked out details of the agreement, under which families of all 170 victims will receive compensation. In March, a French court convicted six Libyans in absentia on charges of masterminding and carrying out the Sept. 19, 1989, bombing of UTA Flight 772 while it was en route to Paris from Brazzaville, Republic of Congo. The jet blew up over the desert in Niger, killing all aboard. Quoting unidentified "trusted sources," the newspaper said Qadhafi also has agreed to pay other legal expenses for the trial. [CNN]
Monday: 21 June, 1999: A row over passports erupted into a shouting match at Johannesburg International Airport last week after five members of Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi's entourage were refused entry into South Africa. Only after Libyan ambassador Dr Abdulla Alzubedi was called did the visitors calm down. "There were about 120 Libyan officials standing around and our attention was first drawn to a group of about 20 when they had only 19 passports to get into the country," an official said. "When we then looked at their passports, we realised that something was amiss." Five passports had expired. On three of them, the expiry dates had been changed manually. The men were not allowed outside the transit area, the official said. The last of the Libyan entourage, including the five detained men, flew back to Tripoli on Friday. [Sunday Times / South Africa]
Sunday: 20 June, 1999: On the first day of a visit to Sudan by the Libyan leader, Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi, Libya has announced the rescheduling of Sudan's debts. It has cancelled the interest owed by Sudan on its three-hundred-million-dollars worth of debt. Colonel Qadhafi held talks with senior Sudanese leaders and was accompanied by President Omar al-Bashir to the site of al-Shafa pharmaceutical factory which was destroyed nearly a year ago by United States missiles. He is due to stay in Sudan for two more days. [BBC]

Saturday: 19 June, 1999: Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi's wife arrived in neighbouring Chad on Friday, saying she wanted to thank Chadians for helping Libya withstand U.N. sanctions over the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am airliner. ``This is the first time I am stepping on Chadian soil,'' Safia Farkash told reporters in Chad's capital N'Djamena. Safia has hardly been seen in public during her husband's numerous visits to countries in the region. The Chad visit was also a rare official engagement abroad in her own right, and took place as Qadhafi arrived separately in Sudan after South Africa. [Reuters]
Saturday: 19 June, 1999: Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi is in Sudan for a three-day visit to Sudan during which he will have talks with President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, Khartoum newspapers said. The privately owned newspaper al-Rai al-Aam said Qadhafi's talks with Bashir will cover bilateral relations and regional and international issues. It said during the visit Qadhafi would also attend a public gathering at Tuti Island on the blue Nile in Khartoum. Another independent daily, al-Sharia al-Siyassi, reported that Qadhafi's visit was aimed at aiding reconciliation between Bashir's Islamist government and the opposition National Democratic Alliance. [Reuters]
Saturday: 19 June, 1999: An attempt is being made to have the UK newspaper The Sunday Times held in contempt of court over a report about the Lockerbie bombing. Lawyers for the two Libyans accused of the bombing have lodged a petition at the High Court in Edinburgh, complaining about a story published last month. The case is due to be heard by Scotland's second most senior judge, Lord Cullen, next week. The case involving the two Libyans is "active" and is therefore subject to strict contempt of court laws. [BBC]
Friday: 18 June, 1999: Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Othman Ismael said in a press conference that Libyan leader Col. Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi will arrive in Sudan today. Ismael described Qadhafi's visit as "historic." The Sudanese minister also praised "the efforts exerted by Libya to restore stability and peace to Sudan and Africa." []
Thursday: 17 June, 1999: Relatives of victims killed in the 1989 mid-air bombing of a French airliner over Africa said on Wednesday they had filed a lawsuit against Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi accusing him of being an accomplice to murder. The legal action will be studied by an investigating magistrate who will decide whether to take further measures. A Paris court last March sentenced six Libyan nationals to life in jail in their absence for the bombing of the airliner. The DC-10 belonging to the UTA airline crashed in Niger, killing all 170 people on board. [Reuters]
Wednesday: 16 June, 1999: Thirteen Sudanese died of thirst after their vehicle broke down in the desert near the Libyan border, a newspaper reported on Tuesday. The privately-owned Al-Akhbar Al-Youm said the vehicle had been carrying 65 people to Libya across a desert with no roads or signposts. The survivors found their way to Libyan villages. Last week, seven people died in the area on their way to Libya, where many Sudanese go in search of jobs. [Reuters]
Wednesday: 16 June, 1999: Libya is sending delegations to Russia and China to discuss purchases aimed at rebuilding its transport infrastructure after the suspension of UN sanctions against it, the official JANA reported Monday. Libya wants to buy aircraft from Russia for its flag carrier, Libyan Arab Airlines, the agency said. Another delegation will go to China where it will discuss plans for building a railway. JANA did not say when the delegations would be making their trips. [Inside China Today]
Tuesday: 15 June, 1999: Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi, on his first foreign tour since the suspension of sanctions against Tripoli, on Monday visited the bare former cell of South African President Nelson Mandela on Robben Island. Qadhafi braved cold, wet weather and rough seas to travel to the former penal colony off Cape Town where South Africa's outgoing president was imprisoned for most of the 27 years he spent in jail for opposing apartheid. The Libyan leader, Mandela's last official guest before he steps down on Wednesday to make way for his deputy Thabo Mbeki, visited the president's tiny cell and made a peace sign through the bars to journalists in the exercise yard outside. [Reuters]
Tuesday: 15 June, 1999: The U.S. Supreme Court Monday allowed Libya to be sued in federal court in New York City by the families of some of the victims killed in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. The U.S. highest court rejected without any comment or dissent an appeal by Libya arguing that the lawsuit should be dismissed on the grounds that U.S. courts lack jurisdiction over the case. The lawsuit named Libya, the Libyan intelligence service, Libya's state-owned airline and two Libyan agents who have been charged with carrying out the attack. The two suspects face a trial before a Scottish court in the Netherlands. [Reuters]

Monday: 14 June, 1999: Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi arrived in South Africa on Sunday as retiring President Nelson Mandela's last official guest. Qadhafi, on his first foreign tour since sanctions against Tripoli were suspended in April, landed at a military base in Cape Town where he was welcomed by Mandela, 80. ``It is a dream for me to be in South Africa, a free South Africa,'' Qadhafi told reporters as he held hands with Mandela on the tarmac. ``These are the results of the struggle launched by this man here.'' The Libya leader is on a three-day state visit and will attend the inauguration of Mandela's successor Thabo Mbeki in Pretoria on Wednesday. [Reuters]
Monday: 14 June, 1999: South African President Nelson Mandela welcomed Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi on Sunday as his last official guest and said the ending of the Lockerbie impasse had justified close ties with Tripoli. ``We are...overwhelmed by at last having here on this southern tip of Africa one of the revolutionary icons of our times,'' Mandela told guests at a lunch in his Cape Town offices after Qadhafi landed at a military base outside the city. ``We look forward with joy and anticipation to the full re-entry of Libya into the affairs of our continent and the world,'' he said. [Reuters]
Monday: 14 June, 1999: Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi is in South Africa as the last official guest of President Nelson Mandela, who is due to leave office in the coming week. Ahead of Colonel Qadhafi's arrival in Cape Town, South African police seized about 30 guns and rifles from his security staff. A government spokesman said they were allowed only five weapons - the rest would remain under guard at the airport. [BBC]

Sunday: 13 June, 1999: Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi Saturday arrived in the Zambian capital, traveling abroad for the first time since the sanctions against Libya were suspended in April. Qadhafi was met by President Frederick Chiluba with whom he was expected to hold talks on the war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Qadhafi, seeking to emerge from a decade of international isolation, arrived with his entourage in a fleet of six aircraft, including a chartered Egyptian plane. [Reuters] more details
Sunday: 13 June, 1999: Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi on Saturday discussed a Congo peace initiative with Zambia's president. Journalists were kept away as he arrived at Lusaka International Airport, but a Libyan official said the 100-member Libyan delegation flew to Zambia aboard six planes. Qadhafi, who has hosted peace talks between the belligerent parties in the Congo war, blamed the conflict on ``foreign and external forces.'' In comments to journalists after meeting with President Frederick Chiluba at the Zambian leader's official residence, Qadhafi did not specify which forces he was referring to. [Reuters]
Sunday: 13 June, 1999: The United States has told Libyan officials it was unable to support the complete lifting of U.N. sanctions against Tripoli, imposed four years after the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am airliner over Scotland. ``It's still premature,'' said Peter Burleigh, the chief U.N. representative. Burleigh, in an interview, said the United States could not support lifting sanctions at this time. ``It's very difficult to reach a judgment prior to trial,'' which has been put off until February. In practice, the sanctions would be nearly impossible to reimpose, since it is considered unlikely that such a resolution would win the votes of nine of the 15 members of the Security Council and avoid a veto by Russia or China. [Reuters]
Saturday: 12 June, 1999: The United States and British U.N. envoys met Libya's ambassador Friday to discuss what Tripoli has to do to secure the lifting of U.N. sanctions imposed in connection with the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am airliner over Lockerbie, Scotland. The meeting, in the presence of Secretary-General Kofi Annan, was the first official session between the United States and Libya since diplomatic relations were broken 18 years ago. All three envoys had positive comments to make about the session. The meeting occurred two weeks before Annan is to recommend to the U.N. Security Council whether sanctions against Libya should be lifted permanently. He is to report whether Libya cooperated with the investigation and the trial, has ended support for terrorism, and has compensated the victims. [Reuters]
Saturday: 12 June, 1999: Commenting on his meeting with U.S. and British envoys, the Libyan ambassador, Abuzed Omar Dorda, said it was cordial. U.S. officials had tried to downplay the significance of the meeting, describing it merely as ``U.N. business'' that didn't constitute face-to-face talks or any step to renew diplomatic relations that were severed in 1981. But in an indication of the touchiness of the subject, U.N. in-house television crews did not photograph the initial greetings of the ambassadors, as is common practice at the United Nations. U.N. officials said UNTV didn't get permission from all parties to tape. [AP]
Saturday: 12 June, 1999: Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi is expected to ask retiring South African President Nelson Mandela to join a ``wisemen club'' of elder African statesmen charged with undertaking high-level diplomatic missions. A Tripoli-based diplomat said on Friday Qadhafi was expected to try to convince Mandela to join during the Libyan leader's state visit to South Africa, which starts on Sunday. The Libyan leader has already recruited former Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere, former Algerian head of state Ahmed Ben Bella, and former Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda, the diplomat added. [Reuters]
Friday: 11 June, 1999: Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi, on his first state visit since the lifting of U.N. sanctions against Libya, will arrive in South Africa on Sunday for the last days in office of his ally President Nelson Mandela, a government statement said on Thursday. Qadhafi will stay for the Wednesday inauguration of Mandela's successor, Thabo Mbeki, the department of foreign affairs statement said. [Reuters]
Friday: 11 June, 1999: Liberian President Charles Taylor held talks with Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi during his tour of African nations, Libyan state television reported on Thursday. The television, monitored in Tunis, said Taylor met Qadhafi in Tripoli late on Wednesday, a few hours after arriving in the Libyan capital. ``I am here to brief Qadhafi on the situation in Sierra Leone,'' the television quoted Taylor as saying. [Reuters]
Friday: 11 June, 1999: The Russian state airline Aeroflot resumed passenger service to Libya on Thursday after Moscow lifted sanctions against Tripoli. Aeroflot plans weekly flights to the Libyan capital and believes that the service will attract strong demand, the ITAR-Tass news agency said. The weekly flight will return to Moscow on Fridays. Moscow hopes to restore economic and trade ties with Libya and reportedly is interested in providing services to the country's oil industry. [AP]

Thursday: 10 June, 1999: Britain said on Wednesday it was lifting a ban on the export of aircraft and spare parts to Libya. The decision followed the suspension of United Nations sanctions against Libya on April 5, officials said. The announcement was made in a written parliamentary reply by British Foreign Office Minister Geoff Hoon. ``The minister announced that the government had decided to lift national controls on the export of aircraft, aircraft parts and flight simulators to Libya,'' a Foreign Office spokesman said. [Reuters]
Thursday: 10 June, 1999: Libya said on Wednesday Eritrea would send observers to oversee implementation of a ceasefire between the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and its neighbours Uganda and Rwanda. Libyan state radio, monitored in Tunis, said Eritrean President Isayas Afewerki made the pledge in a telephone conversation with Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi. ``Afewerki confirmed that Eritrean observers were to arrive in (the Libyan capital) Tripoli en route to join Libyan observers already deployed between Uganda and the DRC,'' the radio said. [Reuters]
Tuesday: 8 June, 1999: Scotland's High Court has granted more time for defence lawyers to prepare their case in the trial of the two Libyans accused of causing the Lockerbie bombing. The decision means the trial is now scheduled to begin on or before 4 February, 2000. Without the extension, and under the rules of Scottish criminal law, the trial would have had to begin by 1 August this year. But because of the complexity of the case, the defence team asked for the 110-day rule to be extended. The judge, Lord Sutherland, sitting in private at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands where the two accused are being held, granted the application at the 30-minute hearing. [BBC]
Monday: 7 June, 1999: South African President Nelson Mandela said on Sunday he expected Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi in South Africa within the next 10 days, adding that critics of the visit could ``jump in a pool.'' Mandela, 80, and his new wife, Graca Machel, had lunch in his official Cape Town residence with Qadhafi's wife, Safia Farkash Albarasi and two of the couple's daughters. Machel invited Safia Farkash to South Africa during a recent visit to Tripoli, where Mandela hammered out details of a deal that led to the suspension of United Nations sanctions against Libya. [Reuters] | more details |
Saturday: 5 June, 1999: Two Libyans suspected in the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am jet over Scotland will request a six-month delay of their trial to better prepare their defense, Scottish legal officials said Friday. Spokesman David Hamilton of the Scottish Office said the defendants will make the request Monday at a private meeting between the suspects, their lawyers and a Scottish judge. If accepted, hearings won't start before 2000. Scottish High Court Judge Lord Sutherland, the advocate in charge of prosecution, will conduct Monday's hearing at Camp Zeist, a former U.S. airbase in the central Netherlands, where the suspects are being held under heavy security. [AP]

Friday: 4 June, 1999: Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi has received a message from French President Jacques Chirac about bilateral relations and peace efforts in the African continent, the Libyan state radio reported on Thursday. The radio, monitored in Tunis, said Qadhafi was handed the message late on Wednesday by Chirac's adviser for African Affairs, Michel Dupuch. ``The message was related to improving bilateral relations and to France's support for Qadhafi's efforts to secure peace and stability on the African continent,'' it said. [Reuters]
Friday: 4 June, 1999: The United States and Libya will hold direct talks next week, the first step toward resuming official contact after diplomatic relations were severed 18 years ago, diplomats said Thursday. Secretary-General Kofi Annan arranged the meeting at Washington's request, the diplomats said on condition of anonymity. The meeting is set for June 11 in Annan's chambers. Deputy U.S. Ambassador Peter Burleigh, Libyan Ambassador Abuzed Omar Dorda, British Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock and Annan are expected to discuss what Libya needs to do to have U.N. sanctions lifted. [AP]
Thursday: 3 June, 1999: The French deputy minister of health, Bernard Kouchner, announced Tuesday that between 100 and 200 Libyan children who were infected with HIV during blood transfusion at Benghazi hospital have undergone tests in France, Italy and Austria. He said between 30 and 40 of the children aged from three to 16 years have been examined at two specialised hospitals in Paris. An official French source confirmed the children were now living with HIV, the AIDS-causing virus, although they had not yet developed the incurable disease or its opportunistic infections. The Libyan government paid the entire cost of sending the young Libyans to France in order to reassure the families which were demanding for medical expertise from abroad. It is believed the children were contaminated while they were at the Benghazi hospital paediatrics service. The origin of the HIV has, however, not been ascertained so far. [PANA]
Thursday: 3 June, 1999: Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi is considering allowing thousands of Thai workers withdrawn from Libya after U.N. sanctions were imposed to return, a senior foreign ministry official said on Wednesday. The sanctions were lifted on April 5 this year after Tripoli handed over two Libyans suspected of the bombing to stand trial in the Netherlands. ``Colonel Qadhafi has said he will give priority to improving bilateral relations with Thailand and would consider taking back Thai workers who returned home after U.N. sanctions were imposed,'' Ong-art Klampaiboon told Reuters. Ong-art accompanied Thai foreign Minister Surin Pitsuwan on an official visit to Libya last week when he met Qadhafi. [Reuters]
Thursday: 3 June, 1999: Cash-rich United Arab Emirates (UAE) companies will travel to Tripoli later this month to seek out investment opportunities following the suspension of United Nations sanctions on Libya. One of the organisers said as many as 40 companies based in the Gulf emirates will participate in the three-day visit to see if the oil and gas-rich nation will provide a new outlet for their investments. Mohan told Reuters the visit, which begins on June 29, will enable the companies to ``clear all doubts about the Libya economy.'' [Reuters]
Wednesday: 2 June, 1999: Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah on Tuesday arrived in Libya for talks aimed at boasting bilateral cooperation between the two countries, Libyan state television said. It broadcast live Abdullah and Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi sitting under a bedouin tent at a mass rally welcoming the Saudi prince in the desert, on the outskirts of the coastal city of Sirte, 450 km (280 miles) east of Tripoli. The two men were greeted by bedouins mounting camels and holding up portraits of Saudi King Fahd and Qadhafi amid women ululating and folkloric dance and music. Abdullah was the highest ranking Saudi official to visit Libya since April when U.N. sanctions were suspended. [Reuters]
Wednesday: 2 June, 1999: An envoy of Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi arrived in Algiers on Tuesday with a letter to Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika on preparations for the first Arab Maghreb Union (AMU) summit in five years. Libya and Algeria are members in the AMU which also includes Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia. But the 10-year-old political and economic grouping has never taken off because of Western Sahara dispute between Morocco and Algeria-backed Polisario Front. Algeria has said the summit, the first since 1994, would take place in November, four months after it hosts the Organisation of African Unity summit. [Reuters]
Tuesday: 1 June, 1999: Five European firms and consortiums have bid for the front-end engineering and design (FEED) and management contract for the $5.5 billion West Libya Gas Project, the Middle East Economic Survey (MEES) said on Monday. The newsletter named the companies as Foster Wheeler, Italiana, France's Technip , Italy' Technomare and Germany's Linde. It also said Swiss-based ABB Asea Brown Boveri with Kvaerner Process of the United Kingdom and the United Kingdom's Acer Construction and Costain were bidding. The project aims to produce 10 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas per year, of which 8.0 bcm will be exported to Italy. [Reuters]
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