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Renewing Ties With Libya

The United States is restoring full diplomatic relations with Libya and will soon open an embassy in Tripoli. Libya will also be removed from the U.S. list of countries not cooperating in the fight against terrorism.

In 2003, Libya renounced terrorism, and also abandoned its weapons of mass destruction programs. David Welch, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, says Libya's behavior "demonstrates that when countries make a decision to adhere to international norms and behavior, they will reap concrete benefits":

"For a number of years now, Libya has ceased its direct support for acts of terrorism and has taken concrete steps to distance itself from terrorist organizations with which it maintained active ties."

Libya was designated a state sponsor of terrorism in 1979 and was implicated in terrorist acts, including the bombing of Pan American Flight 1-0-3 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in December 1988, which killed two-hundred-seventy people. Libya later accepted responsibility for the airplane's destruction and established a fund for the families of the victims.

The steps to normalize relations with Libya, says Ambassador Welch, do not eliminate U.S. "concerns over other aspects of Libya's behavior":

"Instead, these steps will enable us to engage with the Libyans more effectively on all issues. In particular, we continue to call upon Libya to improve its human rights record and to address in good faith cases pending in U.S. courts with regard to its terrorist activities of the 1980s."

In a written statement, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says, "Just as 2003 marked a turning point for the Libyan people so, too, could 2006 mark a turning point for the peoples of Iran and North Korea. Secretary of State Rice says, "Libya is an important model as nations around the world press for changes in behavior by the Iranian and North Korean regimes." The United States, she says, "urge[s] the leadership of Iran and North Korea to make similar strategic decisions that would benefit their citizens."

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.