First Published: 2006-07-13

US lifts air sanctions on Libya

Lifting of sanctions on Libyan air transport is latest sign of warming ties between Tripoli and Washington.


Middle East Online

By Afaf Geblawi - TRIPOLI

Libya makes a strong return to the international fold

The United States has lifted sanctions on Libyan air transport, an official in Tripoli said on Wednesday, the latest sign of warming ties between the two former foes.

The move was announced during a high-level US visit to Tripoli headed by senior State Department official Paula Dobriansky, who held talks with Libyan Prime Minister Baghdadi Mahmudi.

"Mrs Dobriansky announced during this meeting that her country had lifted all air transport restrictions imposed on Libya, including the sale of aircraft," the official said.

The announcement came two weeks after Libya was formally removed from a US list of state sponsors of terrorism, marking another step in its return to the international fold after years of isolation as a pariah state.

On May 15, the United States also renewed diplomatic ties with Libya, ending a 25-year battle with Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi, whom it says has renounced terrorism.

The lifting of US economic sanctions on Libya opened a new era in relations - especially since the Libyan government selected US oil companies Occidental, Chevron and Amerada Hess in January 2005 to prospect for Libyan oil and modernize its oil facilities. Libya has Africa's biggest oil reserves.

Dobriansky, who also met other Libyan officials, said that the United States was ready to cooperate with Libyan companies in other economic and trade fields as well as health and training.

Her mission, which began Tuesday, was aimed at seeking cooperation with the north African state in health, science, technology, oceanic issues and the environment, the State Department said.

Washington severed ties with Libya in 1981 and began imposing sanctions, two years after radical students ransacked the US embassy in Tripoli.

An alleged Libyan-backed attack on a Berlin disco popular with Americans in 1986 spurred the United States to launch air raids against Tripoli, killing 41 people.

Libya in 2003 accepted responsibility for the bombing of a US Pan Am jet over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988 that killed 270 people, and agreed to pay families of victims 10 million dollars each in compensation.

Late last month, Washington called on the Libyan government to honour its commitment by paying the final two million dollars of each settlement.


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