Libya comes in from cold

THE Bush administration's decision to ease economic sanctions on Libya contains a clear lesson to other autocratic regimes.

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Published: Sun 25 Apr 2004, 12:10 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 1:08 AM

Col. Muammar Gaddafi, having realised the folly of his policies of the last three decades, is bent on ending Libya's international isolation - and western governments are reciprocating. The first clear sign of Libya's diplomatic rehabilitation came in the form of British Prime Minister Blair's visit to the country last month. Welcoming the US move, Libya asserted that full diplomatic ties with Washington would be restored within the next five months. Libya would benefit immensely from the move economically. Despite their country's vast natural resources, Libyans have not been able to benefit from them. The per capita income is only $200-300 a month. The US had imposed sanctions on Libyan oil in 1982 over the country's alleged links to terror groups. This was a major blow for the country's vital oil industry. The Reagan administration extended the sanctions in 1986, after blaming Libya for an attack on a German nightclub that killed two American soldiers. The UN imposed its own sanctions after Libya refused to hand over two of its agents suspected of involvement in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, which killed 270 people. Libya's acceptance of responsibility for Lockerbie and decision to pay some $2.7 billion in compensation marked a turning point. Having managed to persuade the UN to lift the sanctions, Libya began talks with the US and Britain on scrapping its WMD programme. Libya's decision to undertake a constructive shift in relations with the rest of the world contains the seeds of greater benefits for all.

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