News and Views [ March 2004 ]

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Wednesday, 31 March, 2004: A delegation from the Libyan Football Federation is trying to convince Fifa that the one-time pariah state is now ideally suited to hosting the World Cup in 2010. Before Tony Blair's meeting in Tripoli on Thursday, the chances of the tournament going to Libya had been - by the accepted wisdom - non-existent. Now at least, they are beginning to border on negligible. "It is a beautiful coincidence," Musa Shibani Naas, the delegation's leader, said of Mr Blair's visit as he tucked into a lunchtime kebab. "It has helped very much to see him in Libya. "It is encouragement that we are a normal country and that we are developing. It is a good time for us to host the World Cup." [The Telegraph]
Wednesday, 31 March, 2004: Libya will need investment of $30 billion (£16.4 billion) in the next 10 years as it expands its oil industry following the removal of international sanctions. Fathi Ben Shatwan, the country's newly appointed energy minister, said Libya would not play favourites between European and US companies as it sought to attract investment that it hoped would eventually boost its oil output to 3 million barrels a day - almost double its current capacity of 1.6-1.8m barrels a day. In three to four years, when projects currently under way came to fruition, Libya hoped to reach 2m barrels a day, he said. [FT]
Wednesday, 31 March, 2004: Libya's oil investment arm abroad, Tam Oil Company, has bought oil major Royal Dutch Shell's storage and distribution network of petroleum products in Eritrea, government officials said. The deal was signed in Tripoli but they gave no details on its value. Tam Oil is a subsidiary of Libya's Oil Investments Company, Tripoli's hydrocarbon investment arm abroad. "The acquisition of Shell network in Eritrea put Tam Oil share market there at 54 percent, far ahead of Exxon and Total," one official said. [Trade Arabia]
Wednesday, 31 March, 2004: Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair has agreed to meet relatives of Lockerbie victims who fear that the Government will not use its newly forged relationship with Libya to get to the truth behind the atrocity. Last week Tony Blair's controversial meeting with Colonel Qadhafi was backed by some of the families amid hopes it would open discussion about the 1988 bombing. But, they say the government has indicated that Libya would not be questioned any further over the tragedy. [Scotland Today]
Wednesday, 31 March, 2004: A prominent U.S. Muslim accused of trying to funnel Libyan money into the U.S. has been named in a superseding indictment that adds new charges against him. The superseding indictment does not change the substantive allegations against Abdurahman Alamoudi of Falls Church, Va., a founder of the American Muslim Council and related American Muslim Foundation. Federal prosecutors say he violated U.S. sanctions against Libya in August 2003, when he received $340,000 from the World Islamic Call Society, which the indictment says is controlled by the Libyan government. Alamoudi told investigators he felt obliged to bridge the gulf between the United States and Libya, because that nation had renounced terrorism. [AP]

Tuesday, 30 March, 2004: A handshake with Tony Blair has sealed Qadhafi's re-entry into the international community. His compliance in opening up Libya to nuclear weapons inspectors has been spun as a major triumph in the "war on terrorism". The motives, however, are rather more cynical. An energy crisis is looming for Britain and the US. Libya produces high-quality, low-sulfur crude oil at very low cost (as low as $US1 a barrel in some fields), and holds 3 per cent of world oil reserves. It has vast proven natural gas reserves of 46 trillion cubic feet, but actual gas reserves are largely unexplored and estimated to total up to 70 trillion cubic feet. [The Guardian]
Tuesday, 30 March, 2004: Britain's improved relations with Libya should be taken "step-by-step," Tony Blair cautioned today. After his visit and meeting with Colonel Qadhafi last week, the Prime Minister said: "If change in Libya is real, we should support it." Libya's actions in the past had "caused grief and pain to many individuals and families, which we cannot forget". But the country's decision to voluntarily abandon its WMD programme was welcome. Mr Blair said he had raised the Lockerbie bombing and killing of WPc Fletcher with Qadhafi. "It is the beginning of a process and we should take it step-by-step," he told the Commons. [The Scotsman]
Tuesday, 30 March, 2004: The engineering group WS Atkins is close to clinching a contract to design a new commercial centre for Tripoli. British Press reports said the firm's contact with the mayor of Tripoli began before Tony Blair's meeting with Col. Qadhafi last week. A £1 billion partnership between Royal Dutch/Shell and Libya's National Oil Corporation was announced afterwards. The Sunday Times said WS Atkins already has a commercial involvement in Libya, and helped draw up its bid for the 2010 football World Cup. It has also developed a masterplan for a resort and football stadium 25 miles east of Tripoli. The firm also expects to play a role in redeveloping Tripoli's two airports as part of a larger BAE Systems contract. [Trade Arabia]
Tuesday, 30 March, 2004: Norwegian oil and gas group Statoil said it is considering opportunities for oil and gas exploration in Libya following the lifting of UN sanctions on the country in autumn 2003. "These investigations are well under way," Statoil said in a statement. "We hope to be able to contribute technical expertise and experience in oil and gas production." Last week Royal Dutch/Shell signed a $200 million gas deal with Libya, 20 years after it stopped business in the country. The Shell deal coincided with a landmark visit to Tripoli by British Prime Minister Tony Blair marking Libya's emergence from isolation. [Reuters]
Tuesday, 30 March, 2004: As Tony Blair has broken a thaw in relations with his visit to Libya, the tour company Exodus is looking into making the country one of its tourist destinations. Company group manager Andrew Appleyard says "I can really see it taking off..." Appleyard is a former archaeologist who says Libya has a "magnificent" collection when it comes to Roman baths, mosaics and museums. He says the last time he was there he noticed hotels were being built in anticipation of a rise in tourism. Sean Tipton (Association of British Travel Agents) says the country's ban on alcohol discourages clubbers from visiting. Some tourists may like the fact areas are not run down by tourism. But, Lonely Planet notes a complicated visa process exists. [BBC]
Tuesday, 30 March, 2004: Qatar's preparations for their FIFA World Cup 2006 qualifier against Jordan on Wedneday suffered a setback as they were beaten 1-0 by Libya in a friendly match. The only goal of the game arrived two minutes into the second half when Libyan substitute Nader Kara beat Qatar goalkeeper Mohammed Enyas to score the winner. Qatar had the upper hand in the game but failed to find a positive follow up to their 2-0 friendly win over Bahrain last month. The Gulf side could have leveled the score in the final minutes of the game but midfielder Suod Ghanem missed a precious opportunity to equalize for Philippe Troussier's men. [FootballAsia]

NFSL: Qadhafi Security Agents Attack Mr. Al-Jahmi Inside His Home

Monday, 29 March, 2004: British firms are to sign further significant deals with Libya in coming weeks, the trade secretary has said. Patricia Hewitt told GMTV's Sunday Programme trading in oil, education, health and tourism could help underpin co-operation against terrorism. She also said human rights improvements were "more likely" after Tony Blair's meeting with Col. Qadhafi. Britain's Trade Minister Mike O'Brien will be visiting Tripoli next month, she added. [BBC]
Monday, 29 March, 2004: Start running with the wrong crowd, and pretty soon you'll be meeting some very unpleasant people. Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair spent Thursday visiting with Libyan dictator Qadhafi, once described by Ronald Reagan as "the mad dog of the Middle East." Blair was hot on the heels of U.S. Assistant Secretary of State William Burns, who flew into Tripoli last week to welcome the original comedy terrorist back into the community of nations. "Comedy" in the sense that Qadhafi is a full-time egomaniac with a dreadful taste in clothes - he often looks like a Bedouin drag queen - who doesn't realize how ridiculous his preening arrogance seems to others. But also "terrorist" because he really does kill people. [Toronto Star]
Monday, 29 March, 2004: As British Prime Minister Blair and Libyan leader Qadhafi met in Tripoli last week and talked of co-operating in the war on terror, there was one secret that would not be divulged. The Australian can reveal that two years before the December 1988 Lockerbie bombing, Qadhafi attempted to blow up a US airliner over Israel. Disclosing this for the first time last week, Western and Pakistani intelligence sources said Qadhafi had hired a group of Palestinian terrorists to hijack a Pan Am jumbo jet carrying 379 passengers and crew, including 89 Americans, and explode it over Tel Aviv. But Qadhafi's bomb plot failed. Pakistani troops stormed the plane while it was on the ground at Karachi airport. Twenty-two people, including two Americans, were killed and 100 wounded. All the terrorists were captured. [The Australian]
Forum For Libyan Democrats (FLD-UK) : An Open Letter To Mr Blair

Al-Hurra: Libyan Dissident Speaks Out After Being Attacked Outside His Home

Forum For Libyan Democrats (FLD-UK) : Khaeri Aboushagor On BBC Radio 

Sunday, 28 March, 2004: British Foreign Office minister Mike O'Brien will lead a trade mission to Libya next month following Tony Blair's historic meeting last week with Col. Qadhafi. Companies including construction groups Balfour Beatty and Amec have already contacted the mission's organiser, UK Trade and Investment. Billions of pounds worth of contracts are up for grabs. O'Brien said: "There has been a lot of interest from the business community in the UK. US companies will follow. I would like to get British people on the ground first." [The Independent]
Sunday, 28 March, 2004: Today, British Airways increased the number of flights from the UK to Libya to six per week to cope with increasing demand. A spokeswoman said most of the travellers were businessmen working in the oil industry, but added that she hoped the continuing rehabilitation of the country would boost its appeal to tourists. [The Independent]
Sunday, 28 March, 2004: The British public overwhelmingly supports Tony Blair's visit to Libya despite the controversy over the Prime Minister's decision to shake hands with Colonel Qadhafi. The findings of the exclusive YouGov poll for The Observer reveal that more than 60 per cent of those questioned thought that Blair should have made the trip. However, a majority felt it was wrong to agree to deals with Qadhafi which involved British military experts training the Libyan army. Last week Shell and defence firm British Aerospace announced major deals for oil and defence contracts with Libya. [The Guardian]
Sunday, 28 March, 2004: Further investigations into the Lockerbie bombing have been quietly shelved despite the breakthrough in diplomatic relations with Libya, Scotland on Sunday can reveal. British Foreign Office officials have dashed the hopes of bereaved families that Tony Blair's historic meeting with Col. Qadhafi would enable them to seek more information about the destruction of Pan Am Flight 103. Sources confirmed that the bombing of the airliner in 1988, for which Libya has now accepted responsibility, had been "the most difficult issue" during the exhaustive negotiations that led to the meeting in Tripoli last week. But it did not feature in the face-to-face talks between Blair and Qadhafi. [The Scotsman]
Sunday, 28 March, 2004: Senior Libyan politicians are set to take part in a major international terrorism conference in Edinburgh [UK]. Members of Colonel Qadhafi's regime will be invited to join representatives from 55 other countries at the event at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre. The move, which follows Tony Blair's historic handshake with the Libyan leader, is set to spark a massive security operation because of the possibility that Col Qadhafi himself might attend. Veteran Labour MP Bruce George, chairman of the Commons defence committee, will offer the invitation to the Libyans when he meets top figures from the once pariah state on a visit next week. [The Scotsman]
Sunday, 28 March, 2004: The overriding mission of a Libyan delegation from Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi, whose members were snubbed by Gambia's President Jammeh last week, was to negotiate the payment of Baba Jobe's outstanding debt to the state, which could have given them bargaining leverage for his release from detention. The Gambian leader pointedly refused to meet the delegation at State House in what could represent a statement over the Baba Jobe affair, which according to the president's earlier pronouncements can only be determined by the courts and not diplomatic wheeling and dealing behind closed doors. [The Independent - Ghambia]
Sunday, 28 March, 2004: Libya wants to raise its oil output capacity by a third by overhauling old fields and opening up new ones, but analysts point out that this will take both time and foreign investment - and may be hard to achieve before the Opec member's 2009 target. North Africa's leading oil producer is hoping its pledge late last year to renounce banned weapons programmes, and subsequent warmer relations with the West, will nurture new energy investment. Libya currently has an Opec quota of 1.31 million barrel per day (bpd). [Reuters]

APFW Appeals To Mr. Blair To Demand The Release Of Ali Al-Dharrat

Blair Visit To Libya Brings Little Hope To Dissidents On Death Row

Saturday, 27 March, 2004: The historic handshake between Colonel Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi and Tony Blair earlier this week will have done little to lift the spirits of Dr Salem Abu Hanak (photo/right). For the past two years the former Salford University student has been sitting in a jail in Tripoli awaiting execution after being sentenced to death for belonging to an organisation campaigning for better rights for ordinary Libyans. Dr Abu Hanak, 47, is one of 90 academics, professionals and students still held in Tripoli's infamous Abu Salim prison after being convicted by the People's Court for membership of the Muslim Brotherhood. Steve Ballinger, a spokesman for Amnesty International, said yesterday: "While Tony Blair shook hands with Qadhafi this week, Abdullah Izzedin (photo/left) and Salem Abu Hanak sat in prison, waiting to be executed. Their crime was to be members of a banned political party. [The Independent]
Saturday, 27 March, 2004: British Prime Minister Tony Blair's groundbreaking trip to Libya Thursday is drawing mixed reviews from his fellow politicians and the British media. The meeting is even being compared with such historic events as former President Richard Nixon's 1972 trip to China, or the 1979 Camp David summit between Egypt's Anwar Sadat and Israel's Menachem Begin. Many in Britain have questioned why Mr. Blair would visit Colonel Gadhafi, given Libya's involvement in past terrorism in Britain, most notably the 1988 downing of a U.S. jetliner over Scotland. But Mr. Blair says the key breakthrough came in December, when Colonel Qadhafi announced he would give up WMDs and join the war on terrorism. [VOA]
Saturday, 27 March, 2004: Libya is close to inking a 20 million pound (30 million euro, 36 million dollar) deal with Britain's Virgin group for a fleet of airships designed to locate landmines in former war zones, Britain's Times newspaper reported. "The Libyan prime minister has verbally indicated that they want to push this hard," said Virgin boss Richard Branson, quoted in The Times. Virgin has reportedly worked with British defence ministry scientists to develop a prototype airborne radar system which could locate millions of mines around the world. [AFP]
Saturday, 27 March, 2004: The senior American commander for Europe and North Africa expressed optimism on Friday that Libya was on the path to becoming a valuable military partner in fighting terrorism. The commander, Gen. James L. Jones of the Marine Corps, said Col. Qadhafi's decision last December to abandon Libya's unconventional weapons programs could convert a country that the US bombed in 1986 for supporting terrorism into an ally. General Jones added that the outlook for military or security cooperation with Libya was "still very embryonic, but we're excited at the prospects." The US Air Force and other American troops used Wheelus Air Base in Libya before Colonel Qadhafi seized power in a 1969 coup. In the 1950's it was a forward operating base for Strategic Air Command bombers. [New York Times]
Saturday, 27 March, 2004: Prime Minister Tony Blair's mission to Libya was backed by his Tory predecessor John Major today. Mr Blair did "the right thing" in meeting dictator Colonel Qadhafi, the ex-PM said. His verdict comes as a fresh blow to Conservative leader Michael Howard, who opposed the Tripoli summit. He had already upset relatives of the Lockerbie victims by not consulting them before suggesting the visit would cause "considerable distress". Speaking at a Hong Kong finance conference, Mr Major said: "I think it was the right thing to do," the Bloomberg news agency reported. "Better to try to recruit them for a democratic future than to leave them possibly considering a return to terror." [The Scotsman]
Saturday, 27 March, 2004: The flurry of diplomacy between Tony Blair and Colonel Mu'ammar al-Qadhafy will be echoed in football circles this weekend, when a Government delegation from Libya is due to meet officials from the Football Association. The delegation is in London to promote their bid for the 2010 World Cup and besides talking to stadia contractors, will meet with the FA on Sunday. "There is a junior delegation from Libya in London this weekend," said FA spokesman Adrian Bevington. "They are on a trade visit but they have asked if they can come and speak to us about their 2010 bid and we are happy to oblige." [This Is London]
Saturday, 27 March, 2004: A team of 15 consultants will leave Britain for Libya in May to help plan the reconstruction of the country's infrastructure. The British Consultants and Construction Bureau said the team was looking to strike partnership deals with Libya's nationalised companies. Colin Adams, the chief executive, said they would be advising on infrastructure work needed on ports and harbours, airports and roads. There is also an acute shortage of higher education facilities and advanced medical help, which forces locals to seek expert medical treatment abroad, he said. One consultant has described the state of Libya's infrastructure as like a "mini-Iraq" after last year's Gulf War. [The Telegraph]
Saturday, 27 March, 2004: North Warwickshire MP Mike O'Brien has told of the part he played in setting up Tony Blair's historic meeting with Libyan leader Qadhafi. As a Foreign Office minister 18 months ago he paved the way by becoming the first member of a British government to visit Libya where he spent two and three quarter hours with Mr Qadhafi. They met in a tent erected on the beach at the town of Sirte, the Libyan leader's birthplace, and talked about the Lockerbie bombing, Al Qaida, Iraq and the murder of police woman Yvonne Fletcher. Mr O'Brien said: "I told him we knew he was developing WMDs and we knew a lot about it. He smiled, I smiled, and we went on to talk about something else, but he got the message." [ICCoventry]

WSJ: Meet Fathi Eljahmi, A Libyan Freedom-Fighter

Libya Human and Political Development Forum: Letter To Prime Minister Blair

Friday, 26 March, 2004: British Prime Minister Tony Blair traversed the mud and weeds before coming face to face with the man whose agents blew up PanAm Flight 103 over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in 1988, funded and supplied arms to the IRA and numerous other terrorist groups, and almost certainly killed WPc Yvonne Fletcher in London in 1984. There was a firm handshake and an awkward smile from Mr Blair. Then the colonel broke the ice. "You look good. You are still young," said the [Libyan] leader. Mr Blair thanked him for the compliment, adding that the British press thought otherwise. "It is good to be here after all these months," said the Prime Minister, like someone who had simply lost touch with relatives for a while. [The Telegraph]
Friday, 26 March, 2004: British Prime Minister Tony Blair said yesterday he would appoint a British general as the UK defense coordinator for Libya "that will offer Libya a chance of a new military relationship with the UK." Blair spoke to reporters after an hour and a half's meeting with Col. Qadhafi, the first by a British leader since Qadhafi seized power in 1969. The visit marked a major step back into the international mainstream for the North African state. [AP]
Friday, 26 March, 2004: Libya can be an important partner in the war on terror if it fulfills its pledge to scrap its WMDs, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said yesterday following a historic meeting with Col. Qadhafi. Blair lauded Qadhafi's progress in dismantling his chemical, nuclear and biological programs and said his cooperation with Britain and the U.S. sent a strong signal to the Arab world. "Libya's voluntary and open implementation of the decision of (December) gives us real hope we can build a new relationship with it for the modern world," Blair said. [AP]
Friday, 26 March, 2004: Libyan leader Colonel Qadhafi is not known for his punctuality. A few weeks ago he kept Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian prime minister, waiting four hours for a meeting. Kofi Annan, the UN secretary-general, had similar problems during a recent mission ... This time, however, it was Mr Blair who found himself behind schedule, if only by a few minutes. And it was the colonel, splendidly dressed in navy blue cape, brown embroidered jacket, white shirt and cowboy boots, who was left pacing his canvas office with nothing to do. [The Telegraph]
Friday, 26 March, 2004: Libyan foreign minister Abdelrahman Shalgam briefed the press about how Libya had recognised the threat from al-Qa'eda years ago - the underlying message being it was on the case well before Britain and America. "For us they [al-Qa'eda] are a real obstacle against our progress," he said. "They are against our security, they are against women, they are against the new culture, they are against moderation, against change in the region, so we have this alliance to fight them because it is dangerous for us socially and economically." [The Telegraph]
Friday, 26 March, 2004: British Scotland Yard detectives investigating the murder of policewoman Yvonne Fletcher 20 years ago will fly to Libya next month hoping to interview several suspects and witnesses for the first time. PC Fletcher, 25, was shot in a burst of machine gun fire on April 17 1984 as she policed a protest outside the Libyan embassy in London. Eleven others in the street, mostly Libyans, were injured. The gunman, who fired from a first-floor window in the [Libyan] embassy, was one of 22 Libyans smuggled out of the country the next day claiming diplomatic immunity, as relations between Libya and the UK were broken off. [The Guardian]
Friday, 26 March, 2004: An American envoy gave Libyan leader Qadhafi a letter from U.S. President Bush commending Libya's progress in eliminating weapons of mass destruction. The letter, delivered to Qadhafi by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State William Burns. State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said Bush used the correspondence to welcome Libya's steps to "repudiate weapons of mass destruction." Bush told Qadhafi that his actions on weapons "allow us to look forward to continued improvements in our bilateral relations," Adam Ereli said. Ereli said Burns told Qadhafi the U.S. welcomes Libya's decision to invite the human rights group Amnesty International to visit Libya and to release a prominent opposition figure. [AP]
Friday, 26 March, 2004: Royal Dutch/Shell announced a long-term hydrocarbon exploration deal with Libya on Thursday, joining several other European companies in the OPEC nation that hopes its offer to dismantle weapons programmes will bring increased foreign investment. [Reuters]

Thursday, 25 March, 2004: The son of Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi said Wednesday Arab countries should support President Bush's campaign to promote democracy in the Middle East. Numerous Arab governments have rejected Bush's democracy initiative, notably Egypt's and Saudi Arabia's, as an imposition unsuited to Arab culture and traditions. "Instead of shouting and criticizing the American initiative, you have to bring democracy to your countries, and then there will be no need to fear America or your people," said Saif al-Islam al-Qaddafi. "The Arabs should either change or change will be imposed on them from outside." [AP]
Thursday, 25 March, 2004: Tony Blair is flying to Libya for a controversial meeting with Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi. The visit follows Libya's decision to renounce WMDs. Thursday's trip comes one day after Mr Blair attended the state memorial service for Madrid's 202 bomb victims. The British prime minister's visit has been criticised by politicians and relatives of some of the 270 people killed in the Lockerbie bombing. Mr Blair has defended his move, saying he was offering "our hand in partnership" to states giving up terror and banned weapons. [BBC]
Thursday, 25 March, 2004: Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi's son Saif al-Islam denied reports that he is a candidate to succeed his father, who rules Libya with little tolerance of opposition. "Many Arab countries are now following the policy of inheriting the leadership, but there are hundreds of Libyans who are better [suited] than I," Saif said. [AP]
Thursday, 25 March, 2004: Rekindling debate on how close Libya actually came to acquiring a nuclear bomb, a private arms-control group says the Bush administration overstated the number of devices the country had for making uranium fuel. The group, the Institute for Science and International Security, based in Washington, said yesterday that the administration had given an inaccurate briefing to reporters last week at the Energy Department's nuclear weapons lab in Oak Ridge, Tenn. [The New York Times]
Thursday, 25 March, 2004: British Senior Conservatives have challenged Tony Blair's decision to visit Libyan leader Colonel Qadhafi. Opposition Leader Michael Howard said: "It is quite odd timing to go from a service which commemorates the victims of the biggest terrorist attack on Europe since Lockerbie, to go straight from there to Libya. I imagine it will cause considerable distress to the families of the victims of Lockerbie." And Shadow Foreign Secretary and Deputy Conservative Leader Michael Ancram has fired off a letter to 10 Downing Street advising Mr Blair to "sup with a long spoon" when he meets Colonel Qadhafi, adding that progress must be made on a series of issues if the British public are to be convinced about the trip. [Conservative]
Thursday, 25 March, 2004: Britain's BAE Systems confirmed on Wednesday it was in talks with Libyan officials on a wide range of aviation projects, including potential aircraft sales. "We are talking to the Libyans about a number of potential civil aviation requirements," a BAE spokesman said. "These include airport infrastructure, air traffic management, safety and regulatory issues, training and potentially, commercial aircraft." BAE owns a 20-percent stake in Airbus, the world's largest commercial aircraft maker. [Reuters]
Thursday, 25 March, 2004: Royal Dutch/Shell may sign an outline deal soon for gas exploration rights off the coast of Libya, a British official said. The official told reporters travelling with Prime Minister Blair, who is expected to visit Libya tomorrow: "It is possible that Shell will be able to sign a heads of agreement in the next few days." He said several UK companies were likely to reap the benefits of improved relations between Britain and Libya. [Reuters]

Wednesday, 24 March, 2004: In Washington, some 100 Libyan critics of Qadhafi's regime signed a document calling for constitutional democracy and the rule of law in Libya. They also set goals of establishing the right of Libyans to elect their government by secret ballot and called for freedom of expression and assembly. "Qadhafi took a peaceful and relatively prosperous country and changed it to a poor rogue nation," said Ali al-Tarhouni, a professor of economics at the University of Washington and a longtime critic of Qadhafi. [The Guardian]
Wednesday, 24 March, 2004: William Burns, the US assistant secretary of state, last night met Mu'ammer al-Qadhafi, the Libyan leader, in Tripoli to discuss the next steps needed for the normalisation of relations between Tripoli and Washington. Mr Burns is the most senior US official to visit Libya since the 1969 coup. Colin Powell, US secretary of state, said Mr Burns had had "good discussions" with Mr Qadhafi. Officials said he gave Mr Qadhafi a letter from President George W. Bush on ways to improve the two countries' ties. [FT]
Wednesday, 24 March, 2004: Some 5000 people rallied in the Libyan capital on Tuesday to protest Israel's killing of Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. The demonstrators burned Israeli flags and portraits of Prime Minister Sharon, who Israeli officials said personally supervised Monday's missile strike in Gaza. The protestors condemned the "inaction of Arab governments" and called for the breaking off all ties between Arab countries and the Jewish state. [AFP]
Wednesday, 24 March, 2004: Saif al-Islam, a son of Libyan leader Qadhafi, said in remarks published in Duha Tuesday that Tripoli is ready to compensate Jews that left Libya for Israel and other countries and whose assets were seized. "We can in the future open the file of compensation for Jews for their seized funds or assets," he told Qatari newspapers during a two-day visit. "It is a responsibility to invite Libyan Jews, including from Israel ... to return to Libya, their ancestral land, and to abandon the land they acquired from the Palestinians," he added. [MEOL]
Wednesday, 24 March, 2004: The son of Libya's Qadhafi, Seif al-Islam, currently visiting Qatar said that Libya seeks to settle the issue of the disappearance of the chairman of the Higher Shiite Council Imam Mousa al-Sader. In a statement to the Qatari dailies published Tuesday, Seif al-Islam said that Libya will work to clarify itself in this file. He added: "there are contacts with Iran to be followed by co-ordination with Italy to complete investigation in this case". [Arabic News]

Tuesday, 23 March, 2004: British Prime Minister Tony Blair will visit Libya on Thursday, a son of Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi said in an interview to be published on Tuesday. "There is military cooperation with Western countries, especially with Britain, whose Prime Minister will visit Libya on Thursday," Saif al-Islam said in an interview with Qatari newspapers. Libya announced in December, after nine months of secret negotiations with Britain and the US, that it was abandoning its efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction. [ABC]
Tuesday, 23 March, 2004: Arab governments and angry populations Monday condemned the Israeli assassination of Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, the spiritual leader of the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, as an "ugly crime" ... In a statement, the Libyan foreign ministry accused Sharon's government of committing "genocide and daily crimes," describing the killing of Yassin was "another crime added to the list of the ugly Israeli crimes targeting the Palestinian people." Tripoli urged the international community to "assume its legal and moral responsibility to put an end to these ugly Israeli crimes facing the defenseless Palestinians." [UPI]
Tuesday, 23 March, 2004: The European Union could move to call for the World Trade Organization (WTO) membership for all countries in the Middle East. An internal policy document obtained by the lists eleven policy objectives which may be included in an overall EU strategy for the region. The move would see countries such as Algeria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iraq, Libya, Iran and Syria become full-fledged members of the WTO. [DW]
Tuesday, 23 March, 2004: International inspectors have completed their inventory of Libya's chemical weapons stockpiles, reporting more than 20 tons of mustard gas and the materials to make thousands of tons of sarin nerve gas, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said Monday. The OPCW oversees compliance with the 1993 international treaty banning chemical weapons, which Libya joined last month. Under a timetable outlined in the treaty, Libya must complete the destruction of all weapons and facilities by April 2007. [AP]
Tuesday, 23 March, 2004: India's Bharat Heavy Electricals (Bhel) has exported a 150 mw gas turbine generator to Libya for an upcoming power project. The generator has been exported against an order of four such generators - the single largest overseas order received by any capital goods manufacturing company in India. Libyan engineers are being trained about design, operations and maintenance of gas-based power stations at Bhel's Haridwar plant. [PTI]
Tuesday, 23 March, 2004: Malawi's United Democratic Front (UDF) Members of Parliament who are to contest on the party's ticket in the May 18 general elections will get a whopping K3 million each from the party's National Chair, Elson Bakili Muluzi to be used for their campaign, The Chronicle has established. Sources in the party said Muluzi has sourced the campaign money from his Arab partners in Libya, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait as well as from Muslim business tycoons in Nigeria, Egypt, Britain and the USA. [The Chronicle]

Monday, 22 March, 2004: Osama bin Laden's terror network claims to have bought ready-made nuclear weapons on the black market in central Asia, the biographer of al-Qaida's No. 2 leader was quoted as telling an Australian television station. In an interview scheduled to be televised on Monday, Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir said Ayman al-Zawahri claimed that "smart briefcase bombs" were available on the black market. It was revealed last month that Pakistan's top nuclear scientist had sold sensitive equipment and nuclear technology to Iran, Libya and North Korea, fueling fears the information could have also fallen into the hands of terrorists. [AP]

Sunday, 21 March, 2004: Universities are routinely spying on foreign students in Britain in order to help the authorities to keep potential terrorists under surveillance, the Telegraph has learnt. Students' emails are being intercepted and mobile telephone calls listened to in an attempt to ensure that terrorists do not use universities as cover for their activities. Special Branch and MI5 are running the vetting operation in co-operation with most of the country's universities. A close eye is kept on students from the "red flag" countries India, Pakistan, Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Syria, Libya, Israel and North Korea. [The Telegraph]
Sunday, 21 March, 2004: Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi's son Saif al-Islam said that the United States had told Libya that diplomatic ties, broken off in 1981, would resume in the next few months. The White House last month lifted its travel ban on Libya, and allowed US oil companies that had previous holdings in the country to negotiate their return. However, the companies will be required to obtain US approval of any agreement, since economic sanctions imposed in 1986 over terrorism charges remain in place for the time being. [AFP]
Sunday, 21 March, 2004: Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi's son Saif al-Islam is planning a visit to Qatar, a close US ally, the Libyan ambassador in Doha said. The younger Qadhafi, who arrives in Doha Sunday for a two-day stay, will meet with his host, Crown Prince Sheikh Tamim al-Thani, and pay a courtesy call on Emir Sheikh Hamad al-Thani, Mabruk al-Maadani told AFP. The visit comes against the backdrop of a dramatic improvement in Libyan-US relations triggered by the elder Qadhafi's decision in December to give up his quest for WMDs. [AFP]
Sunday, 21 March, 2004: Libyan runner Ali Zayed is in the Moroccan town of Ifrane preparing ahead of the 2004 Olympic Games to be held from 13 to 29 August in Athens, Greece. [PANA]
Sunday, 21 March, 2004: Arab League Secretary-General Amr Musa spoke to Zaman [Turkish] yesterday and defended the view that the United States' Great Middle East project would not bring stability to Middle East. He claims that lack of democracy cannot be the sole explanation for the rage, frustration and tension in the region. Musa also commented on recent developments in Libya. Musa said that Qadhafi sent a message to Israel by accepting to pay damages in the Lockerbie case and allowing inspections of its nuclear program. [Zaman]
Sunday, 21 March, 2004: A [British] cruise company is offering luxury holidays to Libya in another step towards reintegrating the north African country into the international community after Lockerbie. Tour firm Mediterranean Shipping Cruises (MSC) plans trips to Tripoli as part of their 11-night cruises in October. MSC director Peter Pate said: "Libya is a unique place because it has been closed off for so many years." Libyan Abdelbaset al-Megrahi is serving life for the Lockerbie bombing. Colonel Qadhafi finally accepted his country's responsibility for the attack last August and agreed to pay compensation to the families of victims. [Sunday Mail]
Where Is Ahmed Al-Thulthy?

Saturday, 20 March, 2004: Martin Indyk, an assistant secretary of state during the Clinton administration, says Libya's decision to give up its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction was not prompted by the downfall of Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq, as claimed by the Bush administration. Libya, he says, offered to give up the weapons five years ago. [NPR]
Saturday, 20 March, 2004: Libya plans tax cuts, privatization and economic reforms in a bid to draw foreign investors, Libyan Prime Minister Shurki Ghanim said in a newspaper interview. "Our country can use high levels of foreign investment ... We are opening our doors and whatever we can get we will take," said Ghanim in an interview with the [German] FT Deutschland newspaper. Germany is Libya's second biggest trade partner after Italy and Libya remains Germany's biggest Arab supplier of crude oil with sales worth about EUR 1.6 billion annually. [Expatica]
Saturday, 20 March, 2004: The final hearing ahead of the verdict in the trial of the six Bulgarian medics accused of infecting more than 400 Libyan children in the Benghazi children's hospital, has been set for April 5 this year. Among those present in the court At this week's hearing were the ambassadors of The Czech Republic and Slovakia, and diplomats from Poland, the UK, France, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy and Turkey as well as a representative of the bureau for protection of US interests in Libya, and a representative of the Qadhafi foundation. [SFE]
Saturday, 20 March, 2004: Nigerian President Obasanjo has called for increased trade and economic relations between Nigeria and Libya. In an audience with a Qadhafi's envoy, Bashir Salah, Obasanjo stated that both countries stand to gain from such relations. [This Day]

Friday, 19 March, 2004: A Libyan man detained [in Britain] without trial under anti-terror laws on the grounds of his alleged links with al-Qaeda was freed last night after Britain's most senior judge ruled that David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, must order his release. The 37-year old man, known only as M, is the first terror suspect to appeal successfully against his detention under the controversial Anti-Terrorism Crime and Security Act (ATCSA). Outside the court, M's solicitor, Gareth Peirce, said that she had called the man's wife with the news. [The Scotsman]
Friday, 19 March, 2004: Now aged 61, Libyan leader [Qadhafi] is purported to be grooming his son Seif al-Islam, 31, to eventually take over the reins of power ... "It's truly sad to see Qadhafi and his son being patted on the back, without the slightest mention of his continued abuse of his own people," says Ali Al-Rida, a Libyan-American. Al-Rida says the "desperation of both Bush and Blair to claim any kind of 'victory‚' is unmistakable, even at the cost of a total loss of any credibility that may have survived their Iraq claims." Indeed, one should not lose track of this fact and allow gross abusers of human rights to get off the hook so easily, say Libyan Americans, who, still wary of the safety of family back home, refuse to be named. [Executive Magazine]
Friday, 19 March, 2004: A diplomatic source at the UN said on Thursday that Britain and the US are discussing the possibility of issuing a UN Security Council statement that commends Libya's move for unveiling the WMDs it had access to. The source told KUNA that Libya asked for including a paragraph in the statement that refers to the need that the whole Middle East should be an WMD free zone, but Britain and the US are not encouraging that Libyan request. [KUNA]
Friday, 19 March, 2004: Libyan Leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi was asked for intervention to release an American Muslim activist accused of making unauthorized trips to Tripoli. Abdel-Rahman Al-Amoudi was taken into custody at Dulles International Airport in September 2003. "Now that suspending issues between Libya and the U.S. were settled and American's travel ban on Libya lifted, there is no point in applying a law no longer standing on the ground," Muslim scholar Yousef Al-Qaradawi said in a letter sent to Qadhafi on Wednesday. [Islam-Online]
Friday, 19 March, 2004: Libya deported 145 Egyptians to Cairo after they allegedly tried to emigrate illegally to Italy from the Libyan coast, several of the Egyptians and airport officials said on Tuesday. The Egyptians were arrested by the Libyan authorities about 10 days earlier trying to board a boat for Italy. Some of the Egyptians told reporters that they had paid 1,000 dollars each to a Libyan gang, which had promised to help them reach Italy. [Khaleej Times]
Friday, 19 March, 2004: The World Chess Championship will be held in Tripoli, the capital of Libya, from June 18 to July 13. The World Chess Federation announced this on its official website, saying that Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi has donated the prize fund besides offering to host the biennial world title series. [ABS-CBN]
Friday, 19 March, 2004: The 53-member African Union launched a pan-African parliament on Thursday, hoping to provide a new forum in which to battle perennial problems of war, poverty and disease. The session at the AU's Addis Ababa headquarters yesterday is expected to elect a speaker and decide a location for the parliament's permanent home - key contenders are South Africa and Egypt after Libya withdrew its offer to host the assembly. [Reuters]
Friday, 19 March, 2004: South Korea has extended an invitation to Libyan leader Colonel Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi to visit the Asian country, official sources in Tripoli have revealed. [PANA]

Thursday, 18 March, 2004: The United States asked Malaysia to halt a shipment of suspected nuclear parts years before a local firm was recently linked to a network that supplied Libya, Iran and North Korea with weapons-making technology, Malaysia's former leader said Thursday. Former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad told The Associated Press in an interview that Malaysia stopped one shipment years ago of stainless steel pipes at Washington's request. "We didn't know where they were headed," Mahathir told The AP. [AP]
Thursday, 18 March, 2004: A British Court ruling was expected today on whether to allow David Blunkett to block the release of a terror suspect held for 16 months without trial. A special tribunal decided that the detention of the unnamed 37-year-old Libyan under controversial anti-terrorism laws was not justified. But Mr Blunkett is challenging the ruling in the Court of Appeal. Lord Woolf, the Lord Chief Justice who is heading a panel of three judges, heard the first one-and-a-half hours of the case in public before excluding not only the media and public but also the detainee's own lawyers. He is expected to give a ruling today. [The Scotsman]

Wednesday, 17 March, 2004: Washington offended Libya with its display of the north African nation's dismantled nuclear weapons, an official close to the UN nuclear watchdog said on Tuesday. The White House displayed for the media on Monday components flown out of Tripoli in late January under a sudden Libyan agreement to rid itself of WMDs. "Libya was quite unhappy with this dog-and-pony show because it hurts them domestically (and) in the Arab world," said the senior official close to the U.N. watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency. The White House insists the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq -- and the example of the toppling of Saddam Hussein -- played an important part in persuading Libya to disarm. [Reuters]
Wednesday, 17 March, 2004: US Government officials said Tuesday the Bush administration didn't intend to embarrass Libya by displaying nuclear components it received from the Arab country. The Treasury Department took journalists Monday to a display of the components at Oak Ridge, Tenn., causing some to say the show was an embarrassment for Libya. The critics said the Arab press was already criticizing Libya for cowing under U.S. pressure and the display would further embarrass Libyan leaders. "This is not a design to embarrass anyone," said State Department spokesman Adam Ereli. "And anybody who sort of thinks that this is sending a message of seeking to cow anyone is really misreading it." [UPI]
Wednesday, 17 March, 2004: Malta's Labour Party's spokesman for foreign affairs, Leo Brincat, has questioned Prime Minister Eddie Fenech Adami's "private visit" to Libya last week. In a statement, Mr Brincat asked why the Department of Information said that Dr Fenech Adami was on a private visit when foreign media had said he had met Libyan Prime Minister Abdelrahman Shalgam. "In light of the mysterious manner in which the Prime Minister's visit to Libya was announced, the government is obliged to state whom he met, what was discussed, and why everything was kept under wraps from the local media," Mr Brincat said. [The Times]
Wednesday, 17 March, 2004: Ghana has been elected to serve a two-year term on the Executive Council of the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council. This was at the first day of the Fourth Session of the AU currently underway in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Nine other member states were also elected to serve a two-year term on the Council. They are: Cameroon, Congo, Kenya, Libya, Lesotho, Mozambique, Senegal, Sudan and Togo. [GNA]

LLHR: Libya; A Worsening Human Rights Situation

Tuesday, 16 March, 2004: Libya has dropped its bid to host a proposed pan-African parliament, leaving Egypt and South Africa as the only contenders, the African Union (AU) said on Monday. Tripoli's decision not to seek to host the pan-African parliament was communicated to the AU during a meeting of permanent representatives to the AU on Friday and Saturday. [SAPA]
Tuesday, 16 March, 2004: Occidental Petroleum is back in the oil business in Libya after an 18-year hiatus. Libya's official news agency says the company opened an office during a four-day visit to Libya by the company chairman and chief executive Ray Irani. The news agency says Irani also held talks with officials of Libya's national oil company on future cooperation. It quoted him as expressing optimism that several other U-S companies will return to work in Libya. [AP]
Tuesday, 16 March, 2004: Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf on Monday said that a Libyan member of the al-Qaeda was behind two assassination attempts against him in December. "The man who organised the suicide attacks against me was from Libya," Musharraf told a meeting of tribal elders in Peshawar. Musharraf, who escaped the attacks unhurt, did not name the Libyan. He said that the Libyan funded Islamic militants to carry out the bombings. [AP]
Tuesday, 16 March, 2004: The shadowy trading network headed by Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan was paid $100 million for the nuclear components and bomb designs it delivered to Libya over two decades, Bush administration officials said Monday, as they displayed some of the wares for the first time. Flanked by guards armed with automatic rifles, Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham led journalists past wooden crates containing 50,000 pounds of machine parts used for enriching uranium -- the "tip of the iceberg" of a vastly larger quantity of sensitive technology sold to Libya by Khan and his black-market associates, Abraham said. [The Washington Post]
Tuesday, 16 March, 2004: A Libyan court postponed once again passing the verdicts on six Bulgarian defendants, quelling five-year hopes for the trial ending. The presiding judge, however, pledged that sentencing the Bulgarians would become actual fact on April 5. The six medics were accused of deliberately infecting more than 400 Libyan children with HIV, but plead not guilty. They even say that Libyans tortured them into making false confessions. Prosecutor, on the contrary, has insisted on death sentences. [Novinite]

Monday, 15 March, 2004: US special forces troops have arrived in several north African countries over recent months amid Pentagon warnings that the region runs the risk of becoming an al-Qaida recruiting ground and a possible back door into Europe. "We have to get ahead of it," General Charles Wald told a group of African reporters in Washington. "We are interested in being able to land at bases in Algeria with our aircraft, or train together," he said. Gen Wald even speculated that Colonel Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi's Libya might one day join the new alliance. "Who knows? Libya could be a part of this in the not too distant future". [The Guardian]
Monday, 15 March, 2004: The UN Human Rights Commission opens its annual session Monday amid complaints that its work is irrelevant. This 60th meeting will see a move by Arab, Islamic and African countries to do away with the agenda item that publicly names and shames nations guilty of abusing human rights. In its stead, the Libyan UN ambassador, Najat Al-Hajjaji, says the group favors a plan to provide offending countries with technical and advisory services to help them improve their human rights records. However, the Acting High Commissioner of Human Rights, Bertrand Ramcharan, rejects this suggestion outright. "It is my belief that [the Commission] must always be ready to deal with situations of gross violations of human rights," he said. [VOA]
Monday, 15 March, 2004: US officials on Monday will be giving reporters a look at nuclear components just flown out of Libya. US President Bush maintains Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi's decision to scrap his weapons programs was a direct result of the Iraqi conflict. [AP]
Monday, 15 March, 2004: Viet Nam's Deputy Defence Minister Nguyen Huy Hieu paid a three-day visit to Libya which concluded on Saturday. The Vietnamese officer held talks with Acting Secretary of the Libyan Defence Interim Committee. Both sides discussed measures to raise the effectiveness of bilateral military cooperation and exchanged views of common concern. [VNA]
Monday, 15 March, 2004: Libyan Leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi has offered his condolences and those of the Libyan people to Spanish Prime Minister Aznar and his government, following terrorist strikes in Madrid on Thursday, the Libyan News Agency (JANA) reported. [PANA]
Monday, 15 March, 2004: Libya's foreign minister has said Libya condemned last week's terrorist bombings on Madrid commuter trains that killed 200 people, the Libyan official newspaper al-Shams reported on Sunday. AbdelRahman Shalgam made the remarks during his meeting with visiting Maltese Prime Minister Edward Adami on Saturday. [Xinhua]
Monday, 15 March, 2004: US Secretary of State Colin Powell on Sunday challenged Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry to name the foreign leaders whom the Massachusetts senator claims want him as the next U.S. president. Kerry said last week that he's heard from some world leaders who quietly back his candidacy. Powell also said it was "just absurd" for Kerry to have suggested that the administration held up for political purposes announcement of an agreement with Libya to rid itself of weapons of mass destruction. [The Guardian]

Sunday, 14 March, 2004: A campaigner who lost his daughter in the Lockerbie bombing has secretly met the wife and family of the man jailed for the atrocity. Dr Jim Swire, who was instrumental in bringing Abdelbaset al-Megrahi to justice, told the Libyan's wife of his guilt over her husband's conviction. In an emotional meeting, Dr Swire said he believed Megrahi was innocent. And he has promised to throw his weight behind the bomber's appeal. [Sunday Mail]
Sunday, 14 March, 2004: U.S. President Bush will mark the one-year anniversary of the Iraq invasion with a speech next week on the war there and in Afghanistan. But the White House is looking to spotlight progress in the broader war on terrorism, from breaking up an arms-dealing network based in Pakistan to persuading Libya to give up weapons of mass destruction. [AP]
Sunday, 14 March, 2004: Libyan diplomat, Mohammed al-Mabrouk Younes, said Libya has the ability to play an important role in settling the Sahara issue, especially that it is now chairing the Maghreb Union, which musters Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Mauritania. Speaking at a conference in Rabat, Younes, a former media adviser at the Libyan embassy in Rabat, affirmed Libya's diplomacy will focus efforts on the issue. [Arabic News]
Sunday, 14 March, 2004: A son of the Malaysian prime minister, who has been embroiled in the international nuclear black market scandal, broke his silence on the issue on Saturday as he made a public appearance with his father. Kamaluddin Abdullah said he was relieved his company had been cleared by a police probe. It was the first time he had commented on the issue since news broke last month that the company, Scomi Precision Engineering (SCOPE), had manufactured centrifuge parts seized on a ship headed for Libya last year. [HiPakistan]
Sunday, 14 March, 2004: Saudi Arabia yesterday threatened to withdraw from the Arab-British Chamber of Commerce & Industry if its candidate Mustafa al-Hujailan is not elected secretary-general. Other candidates for the Arab-British Chamber post are: Jassim Al-Shatti of Bahrain, Ghaith Aramnazi of Syria, Fathi Shatwan of Libya, Kamaluddin Sanada of Sudan, Alauddin Hussein of Iraq and Muhammad Al-Samadi of Jordan. [Arab News]

US Senator Biden's Address To The People's Congress Of Libya

Saturday, 13 March, 2004: Earlier today the Libyan government announced it has freed political prisoner Fahti Eljahmi. A longtime human rights advocate, and the father of seven children, Mr. Eljahmi spoke out for democracy and free speech at the people's assembly in Tripoli, Libya in October of 2002. For that single act he was given a five-year prison sentence, and was incarcerated for the last 16 months. Earlier this month, U.S. Senator Joseph R. Biden, Jr., the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, traveled to Libya where he addressed National Assembly and met with Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi. During their meeting, they discussed a wide range of issues, including the release of Mr. Eljahmi. [The Office of Senator Biden]
Saturday, 13 March, 2004: US President Bush marked International Women's Week yesterday by paying tribute to women reformers -- but one of those he cited is really a man. "Earlier today, the Libyan government released Fathi Jahmi. She ... was imprisoned in 2002 for advocating free speech and democracy," the president said at the White House. The only problem was that, by all other accounts, "she" is in fact "he." The US House Committee on Int'l Relations listed Jahmi as a 62-year-old civil engineer who was sentenced to five years in prison "after he reportedly stated during a session of the People's Conference . . . that reform within Libya would never take place in the absence of a constitution, pluralism, and democracy." [The Boston Globe]
Saturday, 13 March, 2004: A Japanese company supplied Libya decades ago with a key piece of the technology needed to make nuclear weapons, and the Japanese government must have known about the transaction, diplomats told The Associated Press on Friday. One diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, described the 1984 sale of a uranium conversion plant as a "flagrant example" of the failure of export controls meant to keep such equipment away from rogue nations and terrorists. The company was not named. [The Times News]
Saturday, 13 March, 2004: The UN Rights Commission, the world's most important rights forum, starts its 60th session next week amid mounting calls for reform. Rights monitors expect the commission to continue a pattern of shielding some of the worst rights-abusing governments from criticism. But there is also hope that a newly formed group of democracies will begin to assert itself and press for more responsible behavior by the commission. Last year's session was chaired by Libya, a country considered to have one of the world's worst rights records. [RFE/RL]
Saturday, 13 March, 2004: Ever since the US invaded Iraq, some Arab leaders have been acting out of character, talking about big changes in the works and using all the proper keywords: democracy, transparency, choice, human rights. Saudi Arabia has announced it will hold its first ever election; Syria has freed 130 imprisoned critics of the regime; Egypt has revoked legislation used to jail journalists; Libya has promised to give up weapons of mass destruction programs. Yet, despite the frenzy of activity the winds of change seem a mild breeze at best an attempt to do the minimum without allowing any real dilution of power. [AP]
Saturday, 13 March, 2004: What is ETA? It is the acronym for the separatist group Euzkadi Ta Askatasuna. In the Basque language of Euskara, that means "freedom for the Basque country." The group began in 1959 with the aim of breaking away from Spain and France. Spain's 1978 constitution granted wide autonomy, including recognition of languages other than Spanish, to the nation's 17 regions. Spain rejects ETA's demands for independence. The United States considers ETA a terrorist organization and claims ETA members have at times received training in Libya, Lebanon and Nicaragua. [AP]

Friday, 12 March, 2004: Libya's efforts to rehabilitate itself on the international stage and repair its long-standing rift with the U.S. appear to be sincere. If Qadhafi lives up to his promise to rid Libya of WMDs, then the White House must consider lifting the trade ban that isolates Libya as a rogue government. The mutual economic and political benefits are considerable. Bush should lift sanctions soon. Dropping all sanctions would allow U.S. oil companies to return to Libya and compete with Europeans, send out a positive signal of rewards for good behavior to other rogue nations and secure the goodwill of a reforming Arab nation. It's win-win. [Newsday]
Friday, 12 March, 2004: The Libyan General People's Congress, a consultative assembly that meets annually, ratified laws to restrict immigration and to expatriate Africans and other immigrants who live in Libya but have no steady jobs. "You have work, you stay. You don't, you go home," said Giuma Abulkher, a government spokesman. The closed door is part of a shift in Libyan priorities. After decades of presenting himself first as a leader of the Arab world and then the African continent, Qadhafi has turned to the West. [The Washington Post]
Friday, 12 March, 2004: Kwadwo, a Ghanaian who has lived in Libya for less than a year, said the abuse was not unusual. "We are worse than dogs to the Libyans. If we were slaves, they would treat us better," he said. It was a brief sample of the tensions over one of Libyan leader Qadhafi's international experiments. During the 1990s Qadhafi opened the borders to tens of thousands of Africans to live and work in Libya. For the past four years, resentment over the policy has led to occasional riots and frequent bitter confrontations between the immigrants and Libyans. In effect, the problems mark the end of an officially ordained dream. [The Washington Post]
Friday, 12 March, 2004: While Libyans are usually reluctant to openly discuss such issues as democracy, succession and economic policy, the immigration question provides a vent for complaints that quickly spill over into expressions of general unhappiness. "It's about time. How can we have all these poor people here when we are poor ourselves?" said Osama Tayeb, a tout at a chaotic taxi stand in the old city. "First we help revolutionaries everywhere, then we give Libya to the Africans. Enough of this. Libya for the Libyans." Mohammed Mabrouk, a waiter, blamed immigrants for a wide variety of societal problems -- crime, prostitution, dirty streets. Just over three years ago, resentment boiled over into violence. Libyans attacked African immigrants in several cities and killed as many as 130. About 600,000 sub-Saharan Africans are estimated to live among Libya's population of 5.5 million. [The Washington Post]
Friday, 12 March, 2004: Washington D.C. United has been approached about playing an exhibition game in Libya, the outcast Arab nation that has been making bold attempts to normalize relations with the U.S. in recent months. "Yes, we have been approached, but there's a very long way to go before it could happen," United senior vice president Stephen Zack said yesterday. "It's an interesting opportunity, but we need more information." United has been dealing with two unspecified groups trying to arrange the game in Libya, Zack said. [The Washington Post]
Friday, 12 March, 2004: Qadhafi international foundation for charity associations announced that a delegation of the Libyan human rights association visited Britain last week at the invitation of the British Foreign Office, and held a series of discussions with officials of the Foreign Office's Human rights department. [PANA]

Thursday, 11 March, 2004: The British government is secretly pressing for the EU to relax its embargo on British companies selling arms to Libya, a Downing Street document seen by The Scotsman reveals. The memorandum - marked confidential - shows the government aimed to use Blair's recent meeting with the Italian prime minister Berlusconi, to discuss how British and Italian firms could sell arms to Libya on a "case-by-case" basis. Any such trade would directly contradict the Foreign Office's official position that the arms embargo should not be lifted. [The Scotsman]
Thursday, 11 March, 2004: Marathon Oil Corp. on Wednesday said it has no current plans to send high-level executives to Libya to talk about a potential return to the North African country, according to a Reuters report. Marathon is dismissing a report that the son of Libyan leader Qadhafi said in comments published Wednesday that the heads of Marathon, Occidental Petroleum and ConocoPhillips will visit Tripoli next week. [Houston Business Journal]
Thursday, 11 March, 2004: US oil firms may regain their pre-sanctions status in Libya, and a major American mission is planned soon, a senior Tripoli official has said. Saif al-Islam al-Qadhafi, son of Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi, said that US Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham was to visit Libya in the next two months. The heads of US firms ConocoPhillips, Marathon and Occidental are also to visit, he told the al-Hayat newspaper. [BBC]
Thursday, 11 March, 2004: Libya will complete in April the payment of compensation to the families of the victims of a French plane bombed in 1989, Libyan leader Qadhafi's son, Saif al-Islam, said in comments published Wednesday. "We have finalised the set-up of the fund, the mechanism of payment and all legal matters. The payment will be completed in April," he told the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper. The young Qadhafi gave the interview in Paris, where he had met on Monday with French President Jacques Chirac. [AFP]
Thursday, 11 March, 2004: Between all the sailing ships, one ship looks like no other. A ship with exceptional clarity in its path, load, and messages traveling along its trip. It is an American transit ship that left the Libyan coast last Saturday, carrying more than 500 tons of material used in WMD programs, and other programs of Libyan armament ... Nobody following the Libyan policies in the previous decades could stop himself from thinking that the ship also carries tons of wreckage. The wreckage of the dreams and illusions of the Libyan leadership. [Al-Hayat]
Thursday, 11 March, 2004: U.S. officials are praising the steps Libya has taken to get rid of its WMDs, and are predicting the day will not be far off when the U.S. and Libya again have full diplomatic relations. But, there are also concerns that Libya is getting freedom from U.S. sanctions, while personal freedoms continue to be denied its citizens. In U.S. congressional hearings Wednesday, officials said Libya has made good progress towards disarmament. [VOA]
Thursday, 11 March, 2004: Libya took a fresh stride towards international rehabilitation on Wednesday by signing an agreement allowing the UN atomic watchdog to conduct snap inspections of nuclear facilities. "This is a step by Libya to be clean of all nuclear weapons and WMDs," Libyan Scientific Research Minister Maatoug Mohammed Maatoug said after signing the accord with Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency. [Daily Times]
Thursday, 11 March, 2004: Qadhafi's son Saif al-Islam told al-Hayat newspaper: "The Libyan decision to dismantle its WMD programmes was due to three reasons ... The first reason is the political, economic, cultural and military gains. "The second reason was that our problems with the West were a danger for us. "Third, and that's the main reason: we were developing weapons in preparation for a battle with the enemy. Then we saw that the Palestinians have achieved in five years of negotiations (with Israel) more than 50 years of armed struggle". [AFP]
Thursday, 11 March, 2004: Preparing to close the books on Libya, the UN atomic agency on Wednesday urged the UN Security Council to note Libya's past attempts to produce nuclear weapons but praised it for making good on a pledge to abandon its weapons program. The International Atomic Energy Agency's 35-member board of governors adopted the resolution unanimously. U.S. chief delegate Kenneth Brill said countries like Iran, whose nuclear agenda also is under investigation, should follow Tripoli's example. [AP]
Thursday, 11 March, 2004: North African pirates abducted and enslaved more than 1 million Europeans between 1530 and 1780 in a series of raids which depopulated coastal towns from Sicily to Cornwall, according to new research. Thousands of white Christians were seized every year to work as galley slaves, labourers and concubines for Muslim overlords in what is today Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria and Libya, it is claimed. In his new book, 'Christian Slaves', American historian Robert Davis concluded that 1 million to 1.25 million ended up in bondage. [The Guardian]
Thursday, 11 March, 2004: In the Philippines, the Arroyo government has assured Christian, Protestant and Muslim religious leaders in Mindanao of a P50-million fund for development projects , convenors of the Bishops-Ulama Conference revealed Wednesday. The government will reportedly source the money from a foreign country, probably Libya. [Minda News]
Thursday, 11 March, 2004: In an indication that Britain's diplomatic relations with Tripoli are far more extensive than previously realised, the government is understood to have sent military officers to Libya "to advise" Colonel Qadhafi's armed forces on modern defence techniques. The haste with which the government has rushed to restore links with Tripoli was criticised by the Conservatives, who said that Libya had still not taken full responsibility for the murder of Yvonne Fletcher, the police officer shot dead outside Libya's London embassy in 1984. "We would like to see other unfinished business completed, such as the naming and handing over of WPC Yvonne Fletcher's killer, before yet more concessions are given and the hand of friendship is fully extended to Libya," said Michael Ancram, the shadow foreign secretary. [The Scotsman]

Wednesday, 10 March, 2004: Israel is holding secret and indirect diplomatic contacts with Sudan and Libya, Israel Army Radio reported Wednesday. According to the report, a Jewish American official secretly met last month with the President of Sudan and transmitted a message that Israel is interested in holding diplomatic meetings which would lead to normalization in ties between the two countries. A recent meeting in Italy also took place at which a Libyan intelligence official met with Jewish representatives. Similar meetings took place in Europe and the U.S. [DPA]
Wednesday, 10 March, 2004: The UN nuclear watchdog is set to praise Libya for cooperating with efforts to dismantle its atomic weapons program even though it finds that Tripoli has not lived up to its commitments under nuclear accords. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is expected this week to report to the UN Security Council that Libya has not met the requirements of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). But the draft text of the resolution begins by "applauding" Libya's decision on December 19 to dismantle its WMD programs. [AFP]
Wednesday, 10 March, 2004: Russia's Atomic Energy Ministry told RIA Novosti today that the shipment of nuclear fuel from Libya that Russia received on Monday was shipped to be processed at a scientific-research institute in Dimitrovgrad, a city in the Ulyanovsk Region. About 16 kilograms of highly-enriched uranium (HEU) was shipped from Libya in accordance with a joint Russian-U.S. program under the IAEA aegis and within the activities to curtail Libya's weapons of mass destruction development program. The Soviet Union supplied the nuclear fuel to Libya in the 1980s for a nuclear reactor at the Tajura research center near Tripoli. [Pravda]
Wednesday, 10 March, 2004: "Arabic is becoming one of the commonly taught languages, like Spanish and French," George Berg, instructor of Arabic at the University of Utah (U), said. "During the summer [2003], the U hosted the Western Consortion Summer Institute program. Students came from all over the country. It was a great success". "We've seen an increased number of students participating in Arabic language courses at the U, and that number continues to skyrocket," said Hussein Elkhafaifi, assistant professor of Arabic and a native of Libya. Elkhafaifi has been teaching Arabic for more than 25 years at institutions such as the University of Pennsylvania, the UCLA, the UC at Berkeley and the U. [The Daily Utah Chronicle]

Tuesday, 9 March, 2004: The chief prosecutor at the UN's new court for Sierra Leone has accused Libyan leader Qadhafi of being behind the past decade of war in West Africa. The accusation against Qadhafi was made by David Crane in an interview with the BBC. It comes at a time when Libya is trying to improve relations with the West. The Libyan leader has improved his relations with the US and Britain, and sanctions have been lifted. However, the US and Britain also support the new Sierra Leone war crimes court where - when cases start in the coming weeks and months - potentially explosive allegations will be made against the Libyan leader. [BBC]
Tuesday, 9 March, 2004: David Crane, the chief prosecutor at the UN's new court for Sierra Leone, said there was a detailed plan by [Libya's] Qadhafi to destabilise several West African countries which had caused widespread suffering in the region. "We know that, specifically up until last year, that there was a 10-year plan to take down Liberia, Sierra Leone, Cote d'Ivoire, then move to Guinea and then elsewhere as the situation developed," he said. "The 10-year plan was to put in surrogates who were beholden to Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi," Crane said. [BBC]
Tuesday, 9 March, 2004: French President Chirac is likely to visit Libya at the invitation of Saif el-Islam al-Qadhafi, son of Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi, said spokeswoman of Chirac's office on Monday. "The president promised to me that he would do it when it is possible," said Saif al-Qadhafi, who is visiting France as president of the Qadhafi foundation. Chirac thanked Saif el-Islam for his role in the conclusion of the agreement on Jan. 9 between the foundation and the families of the victims in the 1989 bombing of a French jet. [Xinhua]
Tuesday, 9 March, 2004: As part of the agreement to deliver the equipment for producing weapons of mass destruction (WMD) to the US, Libyan leader Qadhafi asked for three concessions from Washington. The concessions were guarantees by Washington that Libya would not be attacked militarily and that Qadhafi would remain in office; that the sanctions against Tripoli would be lifted; and that Libya would receive incentives and economic assistance in the future, an African diplomat based in Vienna said. Libya has also given some signals about restructuring its political system in line with reforms proposed by the U.S. [MNA]
Tuesday, 9 March, 2004: Highly enriched nuclear fuel the former Soviet Union provided to Libya two decades ago was returned to Russia on Monday, the Interfax news agency reported. Quoting an unnamed Atomic Energy Ministry spokesman, the news agency said the fuel was returned from the Tajura research center outside Tripoli, which had received it from the Soviet Union between 1980 and 1984. The Tajura facility includes a 10-megawatt reactor built in 1980. It was unclear how much fuel was returned. A statement from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog, said the IAEA helped Libya in recent days with the removal of weapons-grade uranium from the research facility for transport back to Russia. [AP]
Tuesday, 9 March, 2004: Libya has built on its warming ties with Washington to take fresh steps to reduce its dependency on oil, deciding to liberalise the real estate market and boost investments in tourism. The decisions were taken by the General People's Congress (GPC), which acts as a legislature under Qadhafi's government, at its session last week in Sirte. The GPC has decided to abolish a law that prevents citizens from owning more than one home, one of the socialist measures adopted in the 1970s in line with Qadhafi's Jamahiriya regime. Libyan officials said the law has been reversed to allow citizens to rent and own homes, offices and land, a move effectively liberalising the market. The GPC has also decided to fully open the tourism sector to local and foreign investments and exonerate them from taxes. [AFP]
Tuesday, 9 March, 2004: The head of the UN nuclear watchdog, Mohamad El-Baradei, said on Monday that both Iran and Libya had been guilty of long-term violations of their obligations under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT). El-Baradei told reporters ahead of a closed-door meeting of the board of governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) he would inform the board of "two important cases of violation of the non-proliferation regime, these are by Libya and Iran." IAEA spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said separately that Libya and Niger would sign on Wednesday the agency's "Additional Protocol," giving UN inspectors the right to conduct intrusive, short-notice inspections. [Al-Hayat]
Tuesday, 9 March, 2004: Indiana Congressman Chris Chocola told NewsCenter 16 [WNDU]: "In regards to Qadhafi's future in Libya and the chance of wrath from extremists in the Middle East do to his new attitude". "He talked about Jesus Christ in the sense that the people who killed him followed him. I think what he was saying was, 'I am going to be criticized for this message but in the end people will follow our lead.' It was a pretty profound statement. It was an extraordinary speech. I think it will go down in history if he follows through." [WNDU]

Monday, 8 March, 2004: US Senator Joe Biden said his one-on-one meeting with Libyan leader Qadhafi convinced him the dictator is serious about giving up WMDs and ending his support for terrorists. But he said Qadhafi's assertions that Libya will move toward democracy are "a joke." "Qadhafi is still a dictator who has not a Democratic bone in his body," Biden said. "It will be a cold day in hell before he allows democracy there." The Delaware senator - the senior Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee - was invited to Libya to address the nation's General Assembly. He also had a nearly hour-long conversation with Qadhafi. [The News Journal]
Monday, 8 March, 2004: US Senator Joe Biden described Qadhafi as a pragmatic man who wants to end Libya's isolation to improve his nation's economy and ensure that he - and later his son - remains in power. More than 70 percent of Libya's population is under age 30, and they are in desperate need of jobs and economic investment, which better relations with the West can help provide, Biden said. Biden said he believed it was that fact - and not the U.S.-led overthrow of Saddam Hussein - that prompted Libya's recent overture seeking an end to U.S. sanctions. [The News Journal]
Monday, 8 March, 2004: France and Libya have signed two economic cooperation accords and will shortly sign a third, French Trade Minister Francois Loos said during an official visit to Tripoli. The signed treaties deal with investment and credit protection. The third accord, setting up a fiscal agreement between Tripoli and Paris, will be signed before Loos leaves Libya on Monday. Loos held talks Sunday with Libyan Tourism Minister Ammar Altaef. French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin would shortly meet his Libyan counterpart Shukri Ghanem. [AFP]
Monday, 8 March, 2004: Mohammed al-Houeij, who took over on Sunday as Libya's new finance minister, is a supporter of reform who formerly managed Libya's multi-billion dollar investments overseas. Houeij, a respected economist believed to be in his mid-60s, was appointed on Saturday by Libya's top legislative and executive General People's Congress to reinforce reform-minded Prime Minister Shokri Ghanem's team. He replaced al-Ujayli Burayni. [Reuters]
Monday, 8 March, 2004: A Welsh [British] businessman accused of helping Libya's Qadhafi set up a nuclear weapons programme says he can prove his innocence. Paul Griffin, and his father Peter have been named in a report into the supply of nuclear weapons to Libya, Iran and Pakistan. The men's names appeared in a Malaysian police report to the IAEA, which alleged they had helped ship materials to Qadhafi for the design of an uranium enrichment programme. [ICWales]
Monday, 8 March, 2004: The Qatari Speaker of the Shura Council Mohammad Al Kholeify yesterday received a letter from Al Zannati Mohammad Al Zannati, secretary general of the Libyan Peoples Congress dealing with relations between the two countries in particular between Qatar's Shura Council and the Libyan Congress. The letter was delivered yesterday by the Libyan ambassador to Qatar Al Mabrook Mohammad Al Ma'dani. [The Peninsula]
Monday, 8 March, 2004: The Libyan Popular Congress, the country's highest legislative body, has approved a budget of nine billion dinars (D1.3 = $1 US) for the current fiscal year.[PANA]
Monday, 8 March, 2004: Benin's Mogas 90 Saturday beat Al Nasr of Libya 1-0 in the first leg of the preliminaries of the first Confederation of African Football Cup. [PANA]
Sunday, 7 March, 2004: A cargo ship left Libya on Saturday carrying the last of the equipment that Qadhafi's government had used for its nuclear weapons program, a White House spokesman said. The ship steamed for the US laden with 500 tons of material containing "all known remaining equipment" associated with Libya's nuclear program. The equipment included "all centrifuge parts and all equipment from its former uranium conversion facility," spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters covering President Bush's long weekend at his Texas ranch. The shipment also contained all of Libya's longer-range missiles, including five Scud-Cs, McCormack said. [AP]
Sunday, 7 March, 2004: Libya named veteran oil expert Fathi Omar bin Shetwan as its first energy minister in more than five years on Saturday ahead of negotiations on the return of U.S. oil firms after the lifting of some U.S. sanctions. It replaced the finance minister but kept its prime minister and foreign minister in a cabinet reshuffle decided by the the General People's Congress, and announced on state television. Prime Minister Shokri Ghanem and Foreign Minister Mohamed Abderrhmane Chalgam kept their jobs in the reshuffle, but Mohamed Ali al Houeiz replaced al-Ujayli Abd-al-Salam Burayni as finance minister. [Reuters]
Sunday, 7 March, 2004: Libya has little hope of recovering in the foreseeable future loans of $3.4 billion granted to certain African and Arab countries, the governor of the central bank said . Speaking to the People's Congress, which acts as a kind of parliament, Ahmed Menesi said the debtor countries "are poor and cannot pay back." He said Libya will "not be able to recover the debt in the near future, perhaps we will be able to do so in the long term." [Gulf Daily News]
Sunday, 7 March, 2004: Libya's People's Congress Saturday passed a number of laws liberalizing the country's economic activities and procedures to attract investments. The new legislation reflected a series of changes in Libya's economic policies, including privatizing government-owned firms and institutions through transferring ownership to the private sector. A new law was passed regarding foreign residency, requiring entry visas for non-Libyans. The parliament also passed a law that regulates tourism to facilitate the movement of tourists and to attract Libyan and foreign investments in the tourism industry. [UPI]

Saturday, 6 March, 2004: Indiana Congressman Chris Chocola, fresh from a visit to Libya, said Thursday he will ask US President Bush to begin the process of restoring economic relations with Libya. Chocola, who visited Libya earlier this week along with six other members of Congress, was present when Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi, addressing the 27th Libyan Peoples' Congress, renounced the support of terrorism and the use of WMDs. [South Bend Tribune]
Saturday, 6 March, 2004: Qadhafi spoke with Newsweek's Daniel Klaidman and two other U.S. reporters ... Question: Given all the changes in Libya, do you still consider your Green Book the guide for Libyans today? Qadhafi: I would consider [it a guide] for the whole of humanity not just Libya. The whole world one day will be made Jamahiriya [a word Qadhafi uses interchangeably with Libya]. People ... in their march they will topple down all the governments, all the parties, all the parliaments and the parties and rulers and governments. [Newsweek]
Saturday, 6 March, 2004: US Senator Joseph Biden spoke to the Libyan People's Congress about what he saw as the need to prevent "the concentration of power into the hands of the few ... or the one." Sen. Biden told Libyan parliamentarians during a visit to Libya that the Arab world should reject authoritarian rule and instead adopt democracy. Biden met earlier Wednesday with Libyan leader Qadhafi who has been Libya's undisputed leader for more than 30 years. [AP]
Saturday, 6 March, 2004: Libya acknowledged stockpiling 44,000 pounds of mustard gas and disclosed the location of a production plant in a declaration submitted Friday to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). Libyan Col. Mohamed Abu Al Huda handed over 14 file cartons disclosing Libya's chemical weapons programs to the OPCW. [AP]
Saturday, 6 March, 2004: Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) leader John Garang on Thursday held a telephone conversation with Colonel Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi during which he briefed the Libyan leader on latest political developments in his war-ravaged country. [PANA]
Saturday, 6 March, 2004: The Bush administration plans to impose sanctions on Syria within weeks for its support of terrorist groups and for failing to stop guerrillas entering Iraq. The administration's move against Syria would stand in stark contrast to President Bush's decision to ease sanctions on Libya as a reward for scrapping its nuclear arms programs. Bush has seized on Libya's pledge to abandon weapons programs as an example for other countries. [Reuters]

Human Rights Solidarity : Press Release

Friday, 5 March, 2004: Libya's leader Muammar el-Qaddafi, who has agreed to abandon plans to develop weapons of mass destruction (WMD), might soon be compensated by the West with other forms of lethal equipment, including fighter planes, fast patrol boats, missiles and battle tanks. Britain and Italy are urging the 15-member European Union (EU) to lift the decades-old military sanctions on Libya to reciprocate Qadhafi's much-publicised gesture. [IPS]
Friday, 5 March, 2004: Libya has destroyed 3,300 bombs capable of delivering chemical payloads and is set to give a full account of its stockpiles, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said Thursday. Bulldozers crushed the bombs after each was disarmed and inventoried "under stringent verification," said the chief watchdog organization. [Detroit News]
Friday, 5 March, 2004: Indiana Congressman Chris Chocola has returned to the US after meeting with Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi. While in the country, Chocola attended the 27th Peoples' Congress, where Qadhafi addressed the congress and representatives from more than 100 countries. Chocola has sent a letter to President Bush saying he believes historic change is underway in Libya and that Qadhafi appears truly committed to a more positive role. [WNDU]
Friday, 5 March, 2004: Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qathafi pledged that Libya will continue to stick to the "one-China" policy. He made the pledge Wednesday night when meeting with a visiting Chinese delegation. The delegation arrived in Tripoli Monday for a 5-day visit, at the invitation by the People's Congress, and will continue the trip to Turkey and Iran. [Xinhua]
Friday, 5 March, 2004: Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) delegate Matias Yorshi has visited and talked to the Bulgarian medics in the Quefia prison near Benghazi, Libya. The European Union can make effective steps towards the protection of rights of the Bulgarian medics accused of deliberate infecting over 400 children with AIDS, Dutch Ambassador to Bulgaria Baroness Henriette van Lynden told bTV channel today. Five Bulgarian nurses and one doctor have been held in custody by Libyan authorities for more than five years. [Novinite]
Friday, 5 March, 2004: Libya is preparing to submit a full declaration on its chemical weapons programmes to the UN. The move is a part of the country's efforts to rid itself of chemical weapons, as promised in a surprise announcement last December. The declaration will be submitted to the UN body overseeing the Chemical Weapons Convention. [BBC]
Friday, 5 March, 2004: Mr. François Loos, French minister delegate for foreign trade, will visit Libya on March 5-7. The visit follows the official visit to France by the Libyan foreign minister, Mr. Shalgam, on January 9, and the signing of an agreement between the Qadhafi Foundation and the families of the victims of the attack against UTA's DC10. On that occasion, the minister and his Libyan counterpart signed a joint declaration. Mr. Loos will be accompanied during this visit by a delegation comprising 71 French business leaders. [French Foreign Ministry]
Friday, 5 March, 2004: Bulgarian Foreign Minister Solomon Passy thanked Thursday the European Commission President Romano Prodi for his commitment to persuade Libya to end a trial it has staged against six Bulgarian medics accused of intentionally causing AIDS contagion in a children's hospital. The EU has recently urged Libya to drop the charges, which were groundless according to world AIDS experts, who have testified in the trial. [BNN]

Thursday, 4 March, 2004: After meeting with visiting U.S. congressional delegations, the Libyan leader was interviewed by United Press International and two other American correspondents ... Question: As part of internal reforms, will Islamic organizations be permitted to operate? Answer: I would say that there isn't any justification or reason for that ... Each one who has a word or a say or an opinion is free to do so in the People's Congress. Furthermore, we don't want to involve Allah, or God, in material affairs like infrastructure and sewage. He has nothing to do with that. We are talking about material things, we need policy for that. We need technology for infrastructure. We're talking about infrastructure -- sewage, water. This is policy. God is another thing. How can we involve Allah in (such things) of daily life? [UPI]
Thursday, 4 March, 2004: U.S. Assistant Secretary of State William Burns is considering traveling to Libya this month in what diplomats believe would be the highest-level U.S. visit in more than three decades, officials said on Wednesday. As part of a rapprochement after Tripoli's shock Dec. 19 decision to abandon its WMD programs, Burns told lawmakers on Tuesday he planned to meet Libyan officials this month but did not say when or where. U.S. officials said Burns was weighing the visit to Libya as part of a broader Middle East trip in late March, a powerful gesture after years of enmity that is beginning to dissipate with Tripoli's decision to end efforts to build WMDs and its admission of responsibility for the 1988 Lockerbie bombing. [Reuters]
Thursday, 4 March, 2004: US Federal immigration agents have seized more than $1 million from bank accounts belonging to a Howard County massage parlor operator who officials allege ran a prostitution ring using illegal immigrants as sex workers. Federal affidavits related to the seizure of money from Sung Yul Kim, 65, describe a wide-ranging operation that also dealt in bribery, money-laundering, falsified documents and other illegal activities. Kim has traveled to Libya and Korea in recent years. [The Baltimore Sun]
Thursday, 4 March, 2004: It may not have been such a smart idea to agree to allow Africa to stage the World Cup for the first time in 2010, according to Franz Beckenbauer, the president of the 2006 World Cup organising committee, who says Europe cannot wait 24 years to hold the tournament. The 2010 version is to be held in Africa, where Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt, Libya and South Africa are all bidding to host the event. [AFP]
Thursday, 4 March, 2004: When former Deputy US Assistant Secretary of Defense for African Affairs Jim Woods succumbed to cancer February 12, his friend and colleague Ambassador Herman Cohen said, "I lost a friend and partner, and so did all of Africa." ... "We worked together on a diplomatic/military program to help Chad rid itself of Libyan occupiers which proved successful". "Years later, when I went in a private capacity to Libya and met with Colonel Qadhafi, he said to me: 'You and Jim Woods, you really did a good job on us in Chad'." [USInfo]
Thursday, 4 March, 2004: More than 100 people attended the Dunn County [US] Republican Party's annual Lincoln Day event featuring keynote speaker U.S. Rep. Mark Green in Menomonie on Sunday ... Green told of his trip to Iraq and reminded those present that Libya is only now abandoning their weapons of mass destruction ambitions because they see that President George W. Bush is serious and committed to making the world a safer place. [Dunn Connect]
Thursday, 4 March, 2004: British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw began a three-day visit to Pakistan today. The visit assumes significance in the backdrop of an admission by Pakistan's chief nuclear scientist A. Q. Khan that he sold Pakistani nuclear technology to a host of countries, including Iran, Libya and North Korea. [Web India]
Thursday, 4 March, 2004: British Prime Minister Tony Blair will come out fighting against critics of the Iraq war tomorrow when he makes an unscheduled speech defending his actions before, during and since the conflict. While acknowledging that many people do not agree with him, he is said to be "unrepentant" about the war and convinced that history will prove the US and Britain right for removing Saddam Hussein. Mr Blair will point to the wider benefits - such as Libya's decision to give up its weapons of mass destruction. [The Independent]

Wednesday, 3 March, 2004: In a stunning departure from 35 years of hostility with the West, Colonel Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi told delegates at the opening of the Libyan People's National Congress in Sirte Tuesday that his government had renounced terrorism and weapons of mass destruction and declared that "a new era has started" of openness and cooperation with the US. In an address to the nation's top elected leaders as well as seven members of the US House of Representatives, the Libyan leader gave the first detailed public account of the reasons behind his surprise announcement on Dec. 19 that Libya was prepared to abandon its previously secret nuclear weapons program. He also detailed Libya's extensive support for terrorist groups including the Irish Republican Army, SWAPO, (South West African People's Organization) and the African National Congress while pledging that the era of that support was now over. [UPI]
Wednesday, 3 March, 2004: Colonel Qadhafi told delegates at the opening of the Libyan People's National Congress in Sirte Tuesday that: "No one separated Libya from the world community". "Libya voluntarily separated itself from others" by its actions. "No one has imposed sanctions on us or punished us. We have punished ourselves." The irony, Qadhafi stated repeatedly, was "all these things were done for the sake of others." In a brutally self-critical account of Libya's past support for radical movements around the world, Qadhafi concluded that Libya had paid a high price for its adventures. "If the Palestinians can recognize Israel, how can we not recognize that country?" he asked. "We can not be more Palestinian than the Palestinians themselves." The liberation struggles that Libya had supported "are finished, the battle is finished... Now people are shaking hands. So should only we stay enemies?" [UPI]
Wednesday, 3 March, 2004: A top U.S. official said on Tuesday he would meet with Libyan officials this month in a sign Washington may be looking to further improve ties after Tripoli's decision to abandon weapons of mass destruction. William Burns, the U.S. assistant secretary of State for Near Eastern affairs, told lawmakers he plans to meet Libyan officials later this month and noted that Tripoli has made "significant progress" in meeting its weapons commitments. In another sign of warming ties, Sen. Joseph Biden, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, plans to visit Libya and give a speech there on Wednesday on what Tripoli should do to advance its economy and improve human rights. [Reuters]
Wednesday, 3 March, 2004: The US has found an extensive Iranian military presence in Libya. Intelligence sources said a British-U.S. team that inspected Libyan facilities in late 2003 found evidence of nearly 100 military-related Iranian contracts in Libya. The sources said they include the development of missiles as well as conventional and nonconventional weapons. "Iran has used Libya as a laboratory for Teheran's defense industry," an intelligence source said. "The US found evidence of Iranian involvement in virtually every major Libyan weapons program." [MENL]
Wednesday, 3 March, 2004: Libya will pardon over 1,000 prisoners, including many foreigners, who have served half of their prison terms, the Interior Ministry said Tuesday. The announcement comes a day after Amnesty International issued a report criticizing the human rights situation in Libya and calling for the release of political prisoners. However, none of the 1,059 inmates granted pardons were political prisoners. The ministry statement said 1,059 prisoners would be released; 792 of whom were Libyans, the rest Arabs and other foreigners. [AP]

Amnesty International: Libya; Towards Ensuring Human Rights Protection...

Tuesday, 2 March, 2004: Full diplomatic relations between Libya and the US could be restored by the end of the year, US Representative Curt Weldon said on arriving in Tripoli yesterday for his second visit in a month. Weldon, leading a seven-member Congressional delegation, planned to meet Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi and Prime Minister Shokri Ghanem. Weldon is to speak to Libya's Parliament in the Mediterranean seaside town of Sirte. [Daily News/KRW]
Tuesday, 2 March, 2004: Rights group Amnesty International has said that Libya has promised to take into account recommendations to improve its human rights record. The assurance came after Amnesty concluded its first visit to Libya in 15 years, which included a meeting with President Qadhafi (photo). Amnesty believes it is the first major human rights group to hold a research mission in Libya since its last visit in 1989, as Libya continues its efforts to rejoin the international community. [Al-Jazeera]
Tuesday, 2 March, 2004: With its first access to Libya in 15 years, Amnesty International has detailed a number of serious human rights violations, including the disappearance of prisoners, use of the death penalty and intolerance of political activity. Claudio Cordone, who headed the four-member team, said Amnesty shared the report with the Libyan leader Qadhafi, who promised to consider the recommendations. Mr Cordone said there have been minor improvements in Libya's human rights, but the situation "remains problematic in many respects". [The Independent]
Tuesday, 2 March, 2004: Amnesty team arrived in Tripoli two weeks ago in a visit not reported by media in Libya. The group visited a police academy and Abu Salim prison, which was notorious for the inhumane conditions of its 625 political and military prisoners. The group also visited the town of Beni Waled, where several houses belonging to families of alleged political activists were demolished in October 2002. They met with political prisoners, judges, the prosecutor general, and the interior and foreign ministers. They met with Mr Qadhafi on Sunday. [The Independent]
Tuesday, 2 March, 2004: Foreign ministers of the Arab League's 22 members began talks on Monday to draw up a blueprint for radical reform of their organisation, to be submitted to a summit due March 29 and 30 in Tunis. The members, who are all represented by ministers except for Libya which has sent its League representative Abdel-Mon'em al-Huni (photo), will also discuss a project from Saudi Arab and Egypt aiming to end near paralysis in the pan-Arab body by modernising its institutions. [AFP]
Tuesday, 2 March, 2004: Libya will take steps to become a full member of the European Union's partnership with Mediterranean rim nations as part of its return to the international fold, the bloc's executive said on Monday. The European Commission also said the EU was moving towards lifting commercial sanctions on Tripoli, whose recent decision to dismantle its WMD programme has ended its pariah status. But a spokeswoman said Germany's bid to secure compensation for the victims of a 1986 nightclub bombing in West Berlin could stall Libya's entry into the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, which groups the 15 EU members and 12 regional states. [Reuters]
Tuesday, 2 March, 2004: Matias Yorshi, the rapporteur appointed by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) to attend the Bulgarian medics trial in Benghazi, is reportedly leaving for Libya, Bulgarian national radio (BNR) reported Monday night. Yorshi's task is to investigate on site the circumstances of the court proceedings against the six Bulgarian medics accused of deliberate AIDS infection of over 400 children. All leaders of the political groups represented in PACE signed a resolution, filed by the Bulgarian parliamentary delegation, urging the Libyan authorities to set the six Bulgarians free. [Novinite]
Tuesday, 2 March, 2004: In October last year a US delegation led by deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage placed before Pakistan's President Musharraf "mind-boggling" evidence of A. Q. Khan peddling nuclear technology and expertise to Iran, Libya and North Korea and attempts to do the same with Iraq and Syria. Pakistan was told that its failure to take action would most certainly jeopardise its ties with USA and other important nations. [The Statesman]
Tuesday, 2 March, 2004: The Mediterranean Sea was a desert, millions of years ago. In contrast, the Sahara Desert was once a lush, green landscape dotted with lakes and ponds. Evidence of this past verdancy lies hidden beneath the sands of Egypt and Libya, in the form of a huge aquifer of fresh groundwater. An international team of geologists and physicists has found that this groundwater has been flowing slowly northward (at about the rate grass grows) for the past million years. Their findings have been accepted for March publication in Geophysical Research Letters, published by the American Geophysical Union. [AGU]

Monday, 1 March, 2004: In testimony before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs William Burns said U.S. relations with Libya are being guided by two main principles. "First, Libyan action, not promises or an artificial timeline, will drive U.S. policy. Second, any evidence of Libyan backtracking on its commitments will result in a reevaluation of our bilateral engagement," he said. He also said political, economic, and human rights reforms, as well a willingness on the part of Libya to play a constructive regional role, will help to shape a more normal relationship with the United States. [USInfo]
Monday, 1 March, 2004: Libya's people have already moved far beyond the isolating strictures Colonel Qadhafi imposed. Libyans have embraced the world and entered the 21st century. They are learning English and using the Internet to chat with relatives in the United States ... They debate democracy and explore international business opportunities ... Libyans have outgrown their insular system, and their leader, in power since he overthrew King Idris I in 1969, is anxious not to be left behind. "It's not something where he had a choice in it," says Hafez Ali Khalifa, a neurosurgeon. "You go with the flow, and he's going with the flow." [AP]
Monday, 1 March, 2004: Taghuri provided missing pieces of the Libyan mosaic ... He averred his concern that human rights issues urgently requiring attention in his country might be obscured by two media-hyped planeloads of WMDs. Pressed for details, he recalled, among other incidents, the story of a nurse sexually molested by a physician and driven to suicide attempts, and of his own child, beaten by his teacher for refusing to wash streets in preparation for a visit from Qadhafi's son (widely viewed as his father's successor) ... Perhaps bombs are not the only weapons of human mass destruction. As the U.S. government pursues its own priorities, one hopes it will also unearth the buried human rights issues and aspirations of Libya's people. [Times Union]
Monday, 1 March, 2004: US Secretary of State Colin Powell has said that discoveries in Libya led American and British investigators to Dr A.Q. Khan's network of nuclear proliferators. In an ongoing testimony in Congress, which resumes on Monday, Mr Powell said on Friday that Col Qadhafi's decision to open Libya's nuclear programme for inspection allowed experts from the US and Britain to learn about Dr Khan's network. "We have possession of quite a bit of it (Libya's nuclear equipment) and we learned a great deal about A.Q. Khan and the other proliferators in the world," Mr Powell told the US Senate. [HiPakistan]
Monday, 1 March, 2004: Libya is filled with immigrants. Hundreds of thousands of Africans have made their way across the vast Sahara in search of a better life. The US State Department estimates that sub-Saharan Africans make up a third of Libya's work force. And while Libyan leader Qadhafi, has cast himself as the father of Africa, his people have been slow to welcome the newcomers. Black African immigrants tell of police shakedowns, attacks by racist youth gangs, employers who refuse to pay for a job well done and seething hatred from all quarters. In 2000, the racial tensions boiled over into four days of rioting west of Tripoli that left seven dead. [AP]
Monday, 1 March, 2004: The Istanbul Police have been trying to solve the secret of a mysterious Moroccan for the past month. Zakaria Soubah entered Turkey through Syria on January 30th. He then went to the Fatih District Police Department on February 11th with the intention of surrendering to the authorities. Soubah said that his ties with al-Qaeda began during the time when the Moroccan was working at a PVC factory in Tripoli, Libya. It was in Libya that Soubah first met the man codenamed Usama. Usama provided Soubah with US$100 a month while the Moroccan was working in Libya. The National Intelligence Agency has become involved in the case and is trying to track down the suspected Libyan al-Qaeda militant, Usama. [Zaman]
Monday, 1 March, 2004: Qadhafi wants to buy a Premiership club, The People reports. He has £20million to spend and is reportedly interested in Leeds United, Aston Villa, Manchester City, Everton and Bolton. Libya has recently improved relations with the West after years of international isolation. Qadhafi already has a stake in Juventus and wants to own a British club as he prepares a bid to host the 2010 World Cup, the paper reports. [Ananova]
Monday, 1 March, 2004: Bulgaria's Foreign Minister Solomon Passy, who has just come back from an official visit to the US, has been assured that Washington insists on a quick and fair ending of the Libyan trial against six Bulgarian medics. The US expressed clearly its concern over the trial to the Libyan side, it emerged during talks between Passy and US Vice President Richard Cheney as well as Secretary of State Colin Powell. [Novinite]
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