Triple Veto in U.N. Blocks Anti-U.S. Bid

Times Staff Writer

The United States, joined in a rare triple veto by Britain and France, on Wednesday blocked a Security Council resolution deploring the U.S. downing on Jan. 4 of two Libyan warplanes and calling on the United States to suspend its maneuvers off the coast of Libya.

Canada joined the other three nations, all permanent members of the Security Council, in opposing the measure, calling it a “one-sided treatment of the incident” and accepting the United States’ characterization of it as a legitimate act of self-defense.

Brazil and Finland, two countries whose support Libya had hoped to receive by softening earlier drafts of the resolution, abstained from the vote in what American officials called a better-than-expected show of support for the United States.

“We have defended ourselves here,” said Ambassador Herbert S. Okun, the acting U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations, after the 9-4 vote. “We have made a good case.”


Critical Measure

In announcing the American decision to veto the resolution, Okun said the clear purpose of the measure was to criticize Washington for actions taken in self-defense and in a manner entirely consistent with the U.N. Charter.

The vote, which followed four days of often-acrimonious debate and several efforts to soften the harsh language of earlier drafts, handed Libya and its allies in the Nonaligned Movement a serious defeat. But Libyan Ambassador Ali Treiki, in expressing disappointment at the outcome, extended an olive branch to the incoming administration of President-elect Bush, pronouncing his country “willing to engage in dialogue.”

“There has been a personal obsession of President Reagan against our country and our leader,” Treiki said after the vote. “We hope that with the end of this Administration will come a new era of dialogue.”

Okun reacted cautiously to the Libyan initiative.

“It’s not so much the words and not so much the offers, but the actions that count,” he said. He added that any final response to the Libyan offer would come from Washington.

Language Softened

The language of the resolution that was voted on had been softened. Earlier drafts had “condemned"--rather than “deplored"--the U.S. Navy’s downing of the Libyan jets, accepting Libya’s contention that its MIG-23 fighters were on a reconnaissance mission. The drafts had called the American response an act of aggression that violated the U.N. Charter, which calls on member countries to seek peaceful solutions to conflicts.

After the vote, Treiki told reporters that one Libyan pilot had been killed immediately in the Jan. 4 incident, and that efforts to find the second had not been successful. The American pilots had reported seeing two parachutes after shooting down the single-seater Libyan fighters.

In an effort to win the support of fence-sitters such as Brazil and Finland and to split the United States from its allies by drawing French and Canadian abstentions in the vote, Libya and its supporters had toned down the original text of the resolution.

The Soviet Union and China joined sponsors of the resolution--Algeria, Colombia, Nepal, Ethiopia, Senegal, Malaysia and Yugoslavia--in voting in favor of the resolution.

Meanwhile, the United States announced that it has decided not to hold naval maneuvers scheduled to take place off the coast of Libya in international waters next Monday and Tuesday. Treiki had announced to the Security Council on Tuesday that Libyan officials had received routine notification of the exercises.