E.U. Lifts Sanctions

On Libya After 12 Years

LUXEMBOURG -- The European Union on Monday ended 12 years of sanctions against Libya and eased an arms embargo to reward the North African country for giving up plans to develop weapons of mass destruction.

The decision by the E.U. foreign ministers brought the 25-nation bloc in line with a U.N. decision last year and reflected a significant warming of relations in recent months.

"This is a turning point in relations with Libya," said Claudie Haignere, the French European affairs minister.

The U.N. sanctions were imposed in 1992 to force the government in Tripoli to hand over two Libyans indicted in the 1988 bombing of a Pan American airliner over Lockerbie, Scotland, that killed 270 people. A year later, the sanctions were expanded to include a freeze on Libyan assets in foreign bank accounts and a ban on buying oil equipment.

The U.N. Security Council suspended the sanctions after the two Lockerbie suspects were delivered for trial in 1999, and abolished them last year after Libya agreed to compensate the families of the Lockerbie victims as well as those of the 1989 bombing of a French airliner over Niger that killed 171 people.

THE MIDDLE EAST

* JERUSALEM -- Israel's prime minister, Ariel Sharon, vowed to put his Gaza withdrawal plan to a parliamentary vote on Oct. 25 despite opposition from the right that threatens to bring down his government.

Sharon was heckled loudly as he opened a new legislative session. He had tried to mollify critics earlier by overruling the army's request to scale back an offensive in the Gaza Strip intended to stop Palestinian rocket attacks.

In a televised speech, Sharon made clear he would not be deterred from pursuing his plan to "disengage" by uprooting all 21 Jewish settlements in Gaza and four of 120 settlements in the West Bank next year.

Parliament later rejected two no-confidence motions filed by the Labor Party and Israeli Arab parties to protest the government's economic policies. Sharon has survived a series of such motions over the past year.

But lawmakers, including some members of Sharon's Likud Party, also voted 53 to 44 to reject Sharon's session-opening speech. The vote was nonbinding, but signaled that his disengagement plan was in for a rough ride.

ASIA

* JAKARTA, Indonesia -- Philippine authorities said the sinking of a passenger ferry in February that killed more than 100 people was caused by a bomb set by the Islamic militant group Abu Sayyaf.

The government initially played down the group's assertion of responsibility and said an accident had probably caused the Feb. 27 explosion and fire that sank Superferry 14 an hour after it left Manila.

Authorities filed charges against six men, two of whom were arrested shortly after the explosion. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo said those charged were also responsible for the 2001 kidnappings of three Americans and 17 Filipinos in Dos Palmas, a southwestern Philippines resort. One of the Americans was beheaded and another was killed during a rescue attempt.

Arroyo told reporters that she had ordered the police and military to step up a hunt for the two organizers of the attack, Khadaffy Janjalani and Abu Sulaiman, and two accomplices.

According to a police statement, Janjalani had demanded $1 million from the ferry company in exchange for "unhampered use" of the waters in the southern Philippines, where the Abu Sayyaf operates.

In March, an Abu Sayyaf member, Redendo Cain Dellosa, confessed that he had hidden TNT in a television set that he carried onto the ferry before escaping, security officials said. He said later that he was tortured into signing a confession.

-- Ellen Nakashima

EUROPE

* MOSCOW -- The Moscow Arbitration Court ruled that the embattled oil giant Yukos must pay $1.34 billion in fines and penalties as part of a $4.1 billion back-tax claim for 2001, Russian news agencies reported.

The decision was the latest ruling against Yukos during a more than year-long crackdown on the company and its former chief executive, Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

-- From News Services

and Staff Reports