EU Drops Sanctions on Libya as Ties Warm
The European Union on Monday ended 12 years of sanctions against Libya and eased an arms embargo to reward the North African country for giving up plans to develop weapons of mass destruction.
The decision by the EU foreign ministers brought the 25-nation bloc into line with a United Nations decision last year and reflected a significant warming of relations in recent months.
“This is a turning point in relations with Libya,” French European Affairs Minister Claudie Haignere said.
The U.N. sanctions were imposed in 1992 to force Tripoli to hand over two Libyans indicted for the 1988 bombing of an American airliner over the Scottish town of Lockerbie. A year later, they were expanded to include a freeze on Libyan assets in foreign bank accounts and a ban on sales of oil equipment.
The Security Council suspended the sanctions after the two Lockerbie suspects were delivered for trial in 1999 and abolished them last year after Libya agreed to compensate the families of the Lockerbie victims as well as those of the 1989 bombing of a French airliner over Niger.
The EU, like the United States, wants to improve relations with Libya now that Tripoli has scrapped its program to develop weapons of mass destruction. But friction persists over a Libyan court’s death sentence for five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor accused of deliberately infecting 400 Libyan children with the AIDS virus.