Monday, 4 January 2016

US/UK manoeuvres to pressurise Libya to hand over suspects

[What follows is the text of an article published in The New York Times on this date in 1992:]

US and Allies to Seek UN Support Against Libya

Before seeking international sanctions, the United States, Britain and France plan to ask the United Nations Security Council to support their demand that Libya turn over agents accused in the bombings of two airliners, Western diplomats said today.

The three countries would ask the Council to approve sanctions against Libya only if Tripoli refused to obey the proposed order by the Security Council, which would also demand compensation.

Libya has been asked to extradite two agents in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in December 1988, which killed 270 people, and turn over four men charged in a blast aboard a French airliner over the Sahara in September 1989 that killed 170. Should Libya still refuse to turn over the agents, the three nations would probably seek some sort of mandatory ban on all civilian air traffic to and from the country and on the sale of commercial aircraft and spare parts to Libya, diplomats said.

The three Western allies had previously indicated that they might threaten Libya with immediate trade penalties. But after sounding out other Security Council members, they opted for a slower step-by-step approach similar to the one used by the Council to increase pressure on Iraq to give up Kuwait during the Persian Gulf crisis.

Britain's United Nations representative, Sir David Hannay, who is President of the Council this month, confirmed today that Britain, France and the United States, all permanent members of the Council, are discussing the possibility of bringing the Libyan matter before the Council this month.

Sir David said that Prime Minister John Major was talking to other Security Council members about the possibility of convening a meeting of the heads of government of nations belonging to the Council this month. No date has been set for such a meeting.

In November, the United States and Britain jointly charged two Libyans with involvement in blowing up the Pan Am plane. France had issued arrest warrants in October for four Libyan officials, including a brother-in-law of Col Muammar el-Qaddafi, the Libyan leader, in connection with the bombing of the French plane, which belonged to the airline Union de Transports Aeriens.

The United States, France and Britain began campaigning for support of their two-stage strategy to win Libyan compliance on Thursday, sending ambassadors to put their case to foreign ministers in the capitals of the 12 other countries that are members of the Security Council.

But they expect an uphill struggle with some countries, which are reluctant to pass judgment on accusations of state-sponsored terrorism against another country.

The three allies recognize that Colonel Qaddafi is maneuvering to divide the Security Council by offering to put the accused men on trial in Libya or hand them over to some international tribunal for judgment, rather then surrendering them to the United States, France and Britain.

The Bush Administration formally repeated its demands on Libya today without suggesting any change in its tactics.

"Should Libya continue to fail to comply voluntarily with our demands for justice, we have ruled out no option to gain their compliance," said Richard A Boucher, a State Department spokesman.

But a senior Administration official cautioned that a decision on whether to press for sanctions can only be made after the allies have assessed the Council's response to an initial call for a resolution supporting extraditions.

"This is an unprecedented action we are asking for, and it is going to be very difficult," the official said.

The United States representative at the United Nations, Thomas R Pickering, has advised the Administration that to get the Security Council action it wants over Libya, Washington must be prepared to mount a diplomatic campaign of comparable intensity to the one undertaken during the Persian Gulf crisis, diplomatic officials said.

President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt has already expressed unhappiness over the planned initiative, the officials said. A few weeks ago Mr. Mubarak was so concerned about American intentions that he called President Bush to urge him not to take any new military action against Libya.

Today the United States, France and Britain sent their United Nations representatives to explain their position to the new United Nations Secretary General, Boutros Ghali, who is said to be worried that a new crisis is developing over the Libyan issue.

The three allies deliberately postponed their campaign against Libya until this month after calculating that changes in the roster of Security Council members effective Jan 1 would make the body more sympathetic to their plans.

Cuba and Yemen, which voted against many of the gulf war resolutions affecting Iraq, have left the Council after completing two-year terms, as have the Ivory Coast, Zaire and Romania. Their places have been taken by Venezuela, Japan, Morocco, Cape Verde and Hungary.

Now that Japan has assumed one of the seats reserved for African and Asian states, the number of Council members belonging to the so-called non-aligned movement has fallen from seven to six. That means the non-aligned nations can no longer prevent the adoption of resolutions by the 15-member Council by voting as a bloc; only nine votes are needed to adopt a resolution.

Morocco, however, may be reluctant to see the Council act against Libya, its northern African neighbor.

[RB: The first Security Council resolution requiring Libya to hand over the suspects was passed on 21 January 1992 (UNSC Resolution 731). It was followed on 31 March 1992 by a resolution imposing sanctions on Libya for failure to comply (UNSC Resolution 748).]

No comments:

Post a Comment