Libyan students at American colleges will be allowed to remain and have their studies subsidized by their government despite the freeze on Libyan assets in this country, U.S. officials said yesterday.
The officials said the administration has made "a policy decision" that such a step is "not inconsistent with the intent and purpose" of the economic sanctions imposed by President Reagan earlier this month against Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi's government.
Of the estimated 3,200 Libyans legally in the United States, about 1,200 are students. One official, speaking at a State Department briefing on the sanctions, said that new students from Libya also will be admitted under certain conditions. He added:
"We have decided to license their receipt of Libyan funds and to allow the students who are here to continue their education . . . . We have not tried to aim the sanctions we've taken to date at Libyan persons. It's not aimed at the Libyan people; it's not at Libyan students."
Under the rules of the briefing, the officials, representing the State, Treasury and Commerce departments, cannot be identified.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.) said last week most Libyans in the United States are under surveillance and many are suspected of being agents of Qaddafi.
The United States has accused Libya of aiding the Dec. 27 terrorist attacks at the Rome and Vienna airports. On Wednesday, Qaddafi publicly threatened to train and equip terrorists to make "suicide attacks" against Americans if the United States launches retaliatory raids against Libya.
However, the officials that said the administration will follow an approach similar to that used with Iranian students after their government's assets here were frozen in 1979.
Specifically, the officials said, a special license will be granted to allow the bank account through which the Libyan students are paid to make disbursements not exceeding $2,000 per student for expenses such as tuition. They said that no more than $500,000 may be drawn from the account through the end of this month and that subsequently Libya will have to negotiate new arrangements.