[What follows is excerpted from a report published in The Independent on this date in 2002:]
The Libyan government said yesterday that it was ready to pay compensation for the 1988 Lockerbie bombing and address UN demands that it accept responsibility for the attack, which killed 270 people.
Libya's Foreign Minister, Mohammed Abderrahman Shalgam, made the announcement after talks between the Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, and the Foreign Office minister Mike O'Brien. He also said Libya was ready to normalise relations with the US.
Mr Shalgam said: "Regarding compensation, as a principle, yes, we are going to do something on that topic. Regarding responsibility, we are discussing this issue. We are ready to get rid of this obstacle." The minister's comments mark a sea-change in Libya's official position. While a team of lawyers and business leaders has been involved in discussions about compensation for the past 18 months, the Libya has until now expressed reluctance to make such payments. (...)
British officials said the comments were Libya's clearest declaration so far that it was prepared to comply with conditions for lifting all sanctions imposed over its role in the Lockerbie bombing, for which the Libyan agent Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi was convicted last year at the specially established Scottish court in the Netherlands.
Mr O'Brien is the first British minister to visit Libya for 20 years and is believed to be the first yet to meet Colonel Gaddafi.Their meeting was held in a bedouin tent on the beach of Sirte and marked a day of intensive discussions, which also included five hours of talks with senior Libyan ministers. British officials described the meeting as a "thorough work-through of the bilateral issues", including co-operation against terrorism, as well as Lockerbie.
[The Guardian’s report contains the following:]
Outstanding issues remain between Britain and Libya.
British officials said Libya needed to comply fully with UN resolutions calling for Libya to accept responsibility and pay compensation to families of the victims of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing.
Col Gadafy has agreed to pay compensation but still refuses to admit responsibility despite the conviction of Libyan official Abdel Baset al-Megrahi of involvement in the bombing. UN sanctions against Libya, now suspended, will not be fully lifted until he does.
[In a letter dated 15 August 2003, which I helped to draft, Libya accepted “responsibility for the actions of its officials”.]