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    3 Nations Condemn Libya in Bomb Suspect Impasse

    By John M. Goshko
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Saturday, November 28, 1992; Page A15

    The United States, Britain and France yesterday condemned Libya's continued refusal to surrender the intelligence agents accused of bombing Pan American Flight 103 and threatened new efforts to compel Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi to cooperate in bringing the suspects to justice.

    The three governments acted on the first anniversary of their demand that Libya give up the agents charged with the 1988 Pan Am explosion over Lockerbie, Scotland, and the 1989 bombing of a French UTA jetliner over Niger.

    However, while saying they would intensify efforts to tighten the economic sanctions imposed by the U.N. Security Council against Libya last March, the three did not specify what new penalties they might seek or when they plan to ask the council for action.

    U.S. officials said privately the three allies may seek an embargo on Libyan oil exports, the North African nation's most important foreign exchange earner. But previous attempts to get a majority of the 15-member council to support an oil embargo were unsuccessful.

    A total of 270 people -- 259 on board and 11 on the ground -- were killed when the Pan Am plane blew up on Dec. 21, 1988, en route from London to New York. The UTA explosion resulted in 171 deaths.

    Following extensive investigation, the United States and Britain charged last year that the Pan Am bombing was committed by two Libyan intelligence officials, Abdel Basset Ali Megrahi and Lamen Khalifa Fhimah. Last Jan. 21, the Security Council approved a resolution calling on Libya to give a "full and effective" response to U.S. and British demands for custody of the two suspects. It also called on Libya to cooperate with a French investigation into the UTA bombing.

    When Libya failed to respond, the council adopted a resolution March 27 imposing sanctions that included cutting off air links with Libya, denying the Libyans new aircraft and spare parts and maintenance for existing planes and prohibiting all military aid or training.

    However, only 10 countries voted for the resolution, one more than the nine required for passage. The narrow margin reflected the concern of many Third World countries, particularly Arab states, that there had been insufficient negotiation and that the three Western powers were unwilling to accept such compromise proposals as having the suspects tried by an international tribunal.

    The Arab countries, led by Libya's neighbor, Egypt, since have made several attempts to find a new compromise formula or to convince Gadhafi to comply. Each time, the Libyans have hinted at cooperation, only to back away.

    "The Libyan government continues to attempt to escape its international obligations through equivocation and delay," White House press secretary Marlin Fitzwater said in the statement released in Kennebunkport, Maine. London and Paris issued similar statements.


    © Copyright 1992 The Washington Post Company

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