[Twelve years ago today Libya reached agreement with the United Kingdom and the United States over the terms of its “acceptance of responsibility” for the Lockerbie bombing and the compensation payable to the families of those who died. The following report is taken from The Guardian website:]
Libya today reached agreement with the United States and Britain to accept civil responsibility for the 1988 Lockerbie bombing and compensate victims' relatives, a source close to the talks said.
"History is in the making. A deal could be announced at any moment," the source told the Reuters news agency after US, British and Libyan officials met in London.
Under the arrangement, Libya would compensate families of the 259 passengers and crew killed in the mid-air explosion of the Pan Am flight over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in 1988 and the 11 people killed on the ground.
Tripoli would pay up to £6.2m per victim into a special trust account in return for a series of steps to remove sanctions against it, the source said.
That would make the total value of the settlement roughly £1.68bn if all conditions were met.
The deal would end a lingering dispute between the west and an Arab state shortly before a likely US-led war against Iraq.
A Libyan intelligence agent, Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, was convicted of the crime by a Scottish court sitting in the Netherlands.
[A report on the BBC News website was somewhat more cautious:]
Further talks have taken place aimed at securing agreement on a compensation deal for relatives of those killed in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing.
The talks in London - the latest in a series - between Britain, the United States and Libya have been aimed at ending UN sanctions imposed on Libya following the atrocity.
The London talks were attended by William Burns, a key member of the US State Department, with responsibility for Middle Eastern Affairs. (...)
United Nations sanctions, currently suspended, can only be lifted completely when Libya complies with four key demands.
Among these is adequate compensation and a deal has already been worked out under which a total of $2.7bn would be paid to relatives of those who died, representing $10m per victim.
But another demand - that Libya accepts responsibility for the atrocity - has so far proved to be a stumbling block.
It is understood Britain agreed the wording of a Libyan statement but the Americans were unhappy.
If an agreement is reached, relatives from both the UK and the US will study its wording.
[The terms ultimately agreed for Libya’s “acceptance of responsibility” can be read here.]