Friday, October 31, 2008
Libya pays damages to settle U.S. lawsuits
News from the U.S. State Department that Libya has paid the last $1.5 billion it owed to settle remaining claims from terrorism cases and open the door to full diplomatic relations with the United States is strange news, indeed. It's hard to think of an outlaw nation like Libya and its crazy leader, Moammar Gadhafi, rejoining the world of civilized nations, but that's precisely what happened today when U.S. President Bush signed an executive order restoring that country's standing, according to the Reuters international news service. After all, this is the same North African country that has been blamed for acts of international terrorism, such as the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, that killed 270 people, and the 1986 bombing of a discotheque in Berlin. U.S. warplanes bombed Tripoli and Benghazi in 1986 after the discotheque bombing that killed two U.S. soldiers. The top U.S. diplomat in the Middle East, David Welch, who negotiated the complex deal with Libya, called the country's rehabilitation from terrorist nation to U.S. ally "historic." The author of the Libyan Claims Resolution Act, Sen. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, applauded Friday's development. "American victims and their families have waited decades for Libya to pay for its deadly acts of violence and today they have received long-overdue justice," he said, according to Reuters. "I am pleased that our relentless pressure and support for terror victims has led to this historic moment." Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice visited Libya in September, the first visit by such a high-ranking U.S. official since 1953, after negotiations that took months to resolve.