[What follows is the text of an article published on this date in 1998 in The New York Times:]
With prominent international allies pressing Libya to accept an offer to allow two Libyans to go on trial in the Netherlands for the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am jumbo jet, the Libyan Government said today that it would announce on Wednesday whether it would agree to the American and British proposal.
Both the Arab League and President Nelson Mandela of South Africa, a leading international defender of the Libyan leader, Muammar el-Qaddafi, suggested that Libya would accept the plan. Under the proposal, the two Libyans, identified by American officials as intelligence agents, would be extradicted to The Hague and tried by three Scottish judges under Scottish law.
''The American-British proposal is compatible with the previous Arab suggestions, which Libya has accepted,'' Secretary General Esmat Abdel Meguid of the Arab League said after a meeting in Cairo with the British Ambassador to Egypt, Sir David Blatherwick. ''We have been seeking this solution.''
Mr. Mandela said he was confident that the plan ''should lead to the resolution of this matter.''
But Mr Qaddafi gave no indication of what his decision would be, and senior Clinton Administration officials would not hazard a guess about the thinking of the notoriously unpredictable Libyan leader. Still, the American officials said they were pleased with the statements from the Arab League and Mr Mandela.
The Libyan Government news agency, Jana, reported today that Libya's Foreign and Justice Ministries were closely studying the proposal and that a decision whether to accept it was expected on Wednesday.
A Libyan lawyer for the two suspects was quoted today as saying that his clients would voluntarily surrender to a special court in the Netherlands ''if the conditions for a fair trial are provided to protect their rights pending, during and after the trial.''
An agreement by Libya to allow the suspects to be tried in The Hague would be a milestone in the decade-old search for justice by the families of the 270 people killed in the explosion of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in December 1988.
The United States and Britain, which had once demanded that the Libyans be tried in the American or British court systems, announced on Monday that they would agree to holding the suspects' trial in the Netherlands instead.
The proposal effectively called Mr Qaddafi's bluff, since his Government had suggested just such a plan. Libya had insisted that the suspects, identified by the Justice Department as Abdel Basset al-Megrahi and Lamin Khalifa Fhimah, could not receive a fair trial in the United States or Britain.
The United States and Britain have vowed to seek to extend sanctions on Libya to include an oil embargo, if Libya turns down the deal. If Mr Qaddafi accepts, however, the existing sanctions on Libya would be eased. The United States and Britain introduced a resolution in the United Nations today that would provide for the suspension of the sanctions if the two suspects are handed over.
Although the end of the sanctions would be welcomed by Libya, a trial of the two men risks exposure of evidence that could tie senior officials in the Libyan Government -- possibly including Mr Qaddafi himself -- to the decision to bomb the Pan Am jumbo jet.
''If he accepts, we'll be delighted, and we'll hold this trial just as soon as we can,'' said a senior Clinton Administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity. ''But I still find it hard to believe that he'll allow this trial ever to take place. You may see Qaddafi accept this offer initially and then try to quibble over the details. I hope I'm wrong.''
American investigators have suggested that the Pan Am jet was destroyed in retaliation for the American bombing of the Libyan capital, Tripoli, in 1986.
President Reagan ordered the bombing of Tripoli in response to evidence linking Libyan intelligence to a terrorist attack on a Berlin disco in April 1986 in which an American soldier was killed.
In announcing an indictment of the two Libyans in 1991 for the Pan Am bombing, Justice Department officials said that they had tracked a part of the bomb's timing device to a Swiss company that had sold it to a senior Libyan intelligence officer.
The indictment said that Mr Fhimah held a cover job as a station manager for Libyan Arab Airlines in Malta.
He is alleged to have placed the bomb in a suitcase there that was routed to Frankfurt, where it was transferred to the Pan Am jet. Mr Megrahi, the indictment said, purchased clothing and an umbrella in a store in Malta that were put into the luggage to hide the bomb.