SLUG: 2-306646 U-S/Libya/Lockerbie
INTRO: The United States is publicly calling on France not to "impede" an agreement under which Libya is to pay compensation for the downing of Pan Am flight 1-0-3 over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988. France is threatening to veto an enabling resolution in the U-N Security Council to press for a similar settlement for family members of a French plane brought down over Niger. VOA's David Gollust reports from the State Department.
TEXT: Bush administration officials are making little effort to conceal their irritation over the French stand, which threatens to scuttle the painstakingly negotiated agreement on compensation for the Pan Am 1-0-3 attack.
Under the deal announced last week, Libya accepted responsibility for the Pan Am bombing and agreed to pay as much as two-point-seven billion dollars in compensation to the families of the 270 victims, provided that among other things the U-N Security Council permanently lifted U-N sanctions against the Muammar Gadhafi government.
On Monday, Britain and Bulgaria introduced a resolution to lift the sanctions which U-S officials hope can be approved by the end of the week.
But France is threatening a veto unless French lawyers are given time to broker a similar deal for the French U-T-A jetliner allegedly downed by a Libyan bomb over Niger in 1989.
France accepted a 33-million dollar settlement for the families of the 170 U-T-A victims four years ago, and at a briefing here State Department spokesman Richard Boucher noted that France told the Security Council in 1999 that Libya had met council requirements in the U-T-A case.
He said the United States, while supporting compensation for all terrorist victims, is "deeply concerned" about possible actions by France or any other country that would impede the Pan Am 1-0-3 settlement:
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We continue to support compensation for all victims of terrorism, including the U-T-A families. At the same time we don't believe such efforts should impede the council's consideration of Libyan sanctions, once requirements in the resolutions have been addressed. Nor should the Pan Am 1-0-3 families, who have waited so long for some measure of justice and closure, have their settlement threatened by extraneous last-minute factors.
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Mr. Boucher said the vacationing Secretary of State Colin Powell discussed the Libyan issue by telephone with British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw Tuesday, and that there were ongoing U-S contacts with France "at a very senior level."
A senior U-S diplomat indicated those contacts were blunt, and that more direct criticism of the French position can be expected if France does veto the U-N resolution.
U-S-French relations have only recently begun to recover from the strains of earlier this year, when France blocked Security Council authorization of the American-led military action that ousted Saddam Hussein in Iraq. (SIGNED)
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