26 August 1998
(Wants to study documents before handing over suspects) (550) By Judy Aita USIA United Nations Correspondent United Nations -- Libya told the Security Council August 26 that it needs time to study the proposal by the United States and Great Britain to try the Pan Am flight 103 bombing suspects in the Netherlands. In a letter to the Security Council, Libya's Charge d'affaires to the UN Ramadan Barg asked that the Council postpone any action on a resolution now being considered "until Libya's judicial authorities have completed their study of the ... documents and until the Secretary General of the United Nations has played the role entrusted to him in order to arrive at practical solutions that can be applied by the different parties thereby ensuring that the two suspects appear in court in a neutral third country as soon as possible." US and British diplomats have been discussing the details of a draft resolution that would suspend sanctions against Libya when the two bombing suspects are in Dutch custody. They expected Council action by August 28. Barg said that Libya had received the letter containing the proposal from the United States and the United Kingdom, the agreement between the Netherlands and the United Kingdom concerning Scottish legal proceedings in the Netherlands, and an English version of the proceedings of the Netherlands court. Saying "Libya is anxious to arrive at a settlement of this dispute," the Charge pointed out that "Libya's judicial authorities need to have sufficient time to study those documents and to request assistance of international experts more familiar with the laws of the states mentioned in the documents." "We are absolutely convinced that the Secretary General ... must be given sufficient time to achieve what the Security Council has asked of him so that any issue or difficulty that might delay the desired settlement can be resolved," he wrote. Barge said that Libya "seriously wishes to arrive at a solution and to resolve any complication that might arise." US Ambassador Peter Burleigh told journalists after a closed-door Council meeting August 25 that the proposed resolution would "suspend sanctions on the receipt of a report from the Secretary General that the two accused have been handed over to Dutch authorities in the Netherlands." Burleigh stressed that "the proposal that the British and American governments are making is directly in line with the proposals that have been made by the Arab League, the Organization of African Unity, the non-aligned movement and specifically Libya." Referring to a letter from Libya's Foreign Minister to the President of the Security Council on January 2, 1998, Burleigh said that the Libyan official said that his government would "agree to a trial under Scottish law, with Scottish judges in a third country." In April 1992 the Council imposed mandatory sanctions cutting air links to Libya because of Libyan leader Mu'ammar Qadhafi's failure to cooperate with the United States and Britain in the extradition of two Libyans suspected in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103, destroyed over Lockerbie, Scotland, and with France in the investigation of the bombing of a UTA flight over Africa. In November 1993, the Council added to the original sanctions, freezing Tripoli's assets and embargoing equipment needed by Libya's oil industry.