30 November 1999
Text: U.S. Official Notes "Definite Changes in Libya's Behavior"
(Still, Neumann says lifting of U.S. sanctions "would be premature") (2240) "We have seen definite changes in Libya's behavior, specifically in declining support for terrorism and increasing support for peace processes in the Middle East and Africa," Ambassador Ronald Neumann said November 30 at the Middle East Institute. Neumann is deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs. "The chief, current goal of the U.S. government with respect to Libya is full compliance with the remaining U.N. Security Council requirements. These requirements are payment of appropriate compensation, cooperation with the Pan Am 103 investigation and trial, acceptance of responsibility for the actions of its officials, and a renunciation and end to support of terrorism and terrorist groups," Neumann stated. "Any consideration of lifting U.S. sanctions before Libya has complied fully with international demands would be premature," he added. "Other sources of contention in U.S.-Libyan relations" include "Libyan efforts to obtain missiles and weapons of mass destruction," the U.S. official said. "We continue to want Libya to find a way to address these concerns. For example, if Libya joined the Chemical Weapons Convention, that would be a welcome step towards answering the international community's concerns about Libya's WMD programs and a further signal of Libyan willingness to establish positive relations with other nations." Following is the text of Neumann's remarks, as prepared for delivery: (begin text) Ronald E. Neumann: Speech for Middle East Institute, November 30, 1999 Good morning. I welcome the opportunity to be part of this conference on Libya. I understand it is the first time the Middle East Institute has taken a broad look at what is happening there. It is certainly timely to do so. Libya's surrender of the Pan Am 103 suspects for trial and the ensuing suspension of international sanctions have changed the political landscape of the last ten years. These developments have brought justice closer for the families of the Pan Am 103 victims. They have also prompted questions about whether Libya has changed fundamentally. We have long looked at Libya in stark terms, through the prism of counter-terrorism. Almost since the beginning of Colonel Qadhafi's regime in 1969, the U.S.- Libyan bilateral relationship has been one of suspicion and hostility and, from both our and the international community's point of view, with good reason. Since 1979, we have designated Libya as a state sponsor of terrorism, and since 1986, we have imposed on Libya comprehensive unilateral sanctions that allow for virtually no commercial or financial interactions between Libya and U.S. persons. Today, I propose to discuss some of the most significant changes in Libya's behavior we see, and to set them in the context of what we believe still needs to be accomplished. I also want to contrast these changes with the Libyan leadership's unchanged rhetoric. Since the April surrender of the Pan Am 103 suspects, most of the world has embraced Libya's return to the international community. Many sub-Saharan African leaders had begun to do so before the suspects' surrender, and the organization of African Unity had resolved not to observe UN sanctions then imposed on Libya. Since April, others, including many of our close European allies, have joined this chorus. In recent months, Libya has hosted numerous commercial, trade and political delegations from interested governments around the world. Throughout this time, we have consistently urged our friends and allies to exercise caution and to emphasize the need for changes in Libyan behavior before it is reintegrated into the world community. We have argued that Libya's past history of support for terrorism and intervention outside its borders cannot simply be forgotten, and that trust needs to be based on a consistent pattern of altered behavior and concrete actions. We have argued that Libya has not yet fulfilled all of the requirements set forth in the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions, and that international legitimacy should wait, at the very least, until Libya has complied with all these requirements. In consulting with other nations, we have acknowledged the positive steps that Libya has taken and some of the changes in Libya's public posture. But the picture of Libya's current actions is only slowly coming into focus, and our understanding of Libya's intentions or how the Libyan government sees itself in the world remains quite unclear. The most significant changes in Libya's behavior have been in its declining support for terrorism. We welcome this. In April of this year, after 10 years, Libya surrendered the Pan Am 103 bombing suspects for trial before a Scottish court seated in the Netherlands. This trial is set to begin on February 2, 2000. We were pleased and gratified that our long-standing, extensive efforts to bring the accused to trial were finally successful. The suspects surrender represented a real achievement for UN and U.S. sanctions regimes and for U.S. counter-terrorism policy and should bring some measure of justice to the victims' families, as Secretary Albright had promised. The suspects' surrender is also proof that when properly targeted and strictly enforced, multilateral sanctions can work. I underline this fact because stories about some behind-the-scenes deal are false. We have no hidden agenda. We seek only to bring to justice those responsible for the downing of Pan Am 103. We have imposed no constraints on the prosecutor's freedom to pursue the evidence wherever it leads. By surrendering the suspects, Libya signaled its desire to begin the process of getting out from under the UN sanctions regime. We welcomed this very important step of turning over the suspects, which prompted the suspension of UN sanctions. We subsequently met in New York with Libyan representatives to the United Nations, along with British and UN officials, to explain our view of what specific further Libyan actions are necessary to meet all provisions of the Security Council Resolutions, which would lead to the lifting of the UN-imposed multilateral sanctions. Since April, Libya has taken a number of other important steps to reduce its support for terrorist groups and activities. Libya has expelled the Abu Nidal Organization and all its members resident in Libya. There is no longer an ANO presence or any ANO training camps in Libya. We understand from press reports that the ANO has been upset by the actions of the Libyan government and has even threatened to strike back. As far as we can tell, the Libyan government's actions were not window dressing, but a serious, credible step to reduce its involvement with that terrorist organization. There are some indications that Libya has taken certain steps, including new visa restrictions, to prevent terrorists from entering Libya and using Libyan territories as a haven. It is also clear that Libya shares the concerns of its regional neighbors about Islamic extremists, including Usama bin Ladin and his associates. Libya has transferred its support from the Palestinian rejectionists to the Palestinian Authority and Chairman Arafat. All Palestinian groups resident in Libya have been informed that they are forbidden to conduct any political or propaganda activities from Libya and that they should work through the local PLO office. The Libyan government has said it will address all its Palestinian related issues to Chairman Arafat and his representatives. This new-found support for the PA, especially at this critical time in the Peace Process, from one of the original Arab rejectionist states should not be minimized. I want to be clear on this point. The U.S. government welcomes Libyan support for the PA and views it as a strong signal of Libya's willingness to support the Peace Process. While Libya's expulsion of ANO and support for the PA represent real and constructive changes in Libya's Middle East policies, much of the rhetoric that we see from Libya's leadership remains unchanged. As a result, we are uncertain about Libya's real intentions. In evaluating Libya's posture since the April surrender of Pan Am 103 suspects, we give priority to actions. This position is consistent with the posture we have adopted in the Security Council. We have said repeatedly that assurances of Libya's willingness to comply with Security Council requirements are not enough. We want to see concrete actions, before we can determine compliance. We are concerned by Libya's inflammatory rhetoric, because of its potential to undermine fragile peace processes in both Africa and the Middle East, and because it suggests that the Libyan leadership may be fundamentally anti-American, that is, committed to opposing American interests and an American policy agenda, simply because they are American. Given the history of the last three decades, rhetoric is bound to invoke disturbing memories. On the other hand, over the weekend, the Libyan government issued a statement in which it calls for "balanced and stable relations between" Libya and the U.S. and looks forward to a "positive spirit." I have drawn for you a mixed picture, in which Libya has begun to take important positive steps to renounce terror and support peace, but continues to sound the bell of long-term opposition to the U.S. Turning to what this mixed picture may mean for how Libya fits into the world, I think we can expect that Libya's reintegration into the international community will continue, whether we like it or not, so long as Libya avoids new terrorism or blatant challenges to the international order. Libya is rapidly developing and enriching a range of bilateral relationships. African and European states have steadily increased the frequency and level of their political engagement with Libya. We expect our European and other allies to use their renewed relationships with Libya to urge improved Libyan behavior and compliance with the remaining Security Council requirements. If, however, Libya should backtrack on its positive steps on terrorism, we expect -- and, indeed, would call upon -- our friends to respond appropriately. Libya is increasingly involved in multilateral fora. We ask these institutions and their members to urge Libya to behave as a responsible member of the world community, if it wishes to be treated as such. Libya seeks a greater role for itself as a mediator in regional conflicts, especially in Africa. We urge Libya to work through the appropriate regional organizations, such as the organization of African Unity, and put its significant resources to the service of peace in the region. There is some concern that Libyan efforts will provide an alternative to regional conflict resolution processes and mechanisms already in place. In Sudan, for example, we want to ensure that the recently proposed Egyptian-Libyan Initiative is coordinated with the ongoing IGAD process that includes Sudan's sub-Saharan neighbors. We do not want to see parties to conflict in Sudan or elsewhere play off outside mediators in order to leverage additional funds and arms or gain concessions. We do recognize that many neighbors have an interest in Sudan and we are coordinating closely with Egypt. I have not yet addressed the topic that may be of greatest interest to the audience: the future of U.S.-Libya relations. Until the surrender of the Pan Am 103 suspects for trial, any change in U.S.-Libyan relations was unimaginable. While change can now be imagined, it is not necessarily a near-term likelihood. The chief, current goal of the U.S. government with respect to Libya is full compliance with the remaining UN Security Council requirements. These requirements are payment of appropriate compensation, cooperation with the Pan Am 103 investigation and trial, acceptance of responsibility for the actions of its officials, and a renunciation and end to support of terrorism and terrorist groups. If Libya complies fully with all these requirements, it will have met the demands of the Security Council. We have said consistently that Libya can and should comply with these requirements. This remains true. On the other hand, U.S. unilateral sanctions were imposed in response to Libya's support for terrorism before the international sanctions came into being. Any consideration of lifting U.S. sanctions before Libya has complied fully with international demands would be premature. While U.S. sanctions were imposed because of concerns about Libyan support for terrorism, there have been other sources of contention in U.S.-Libyan relations over the past three decades, including Libyan efforts to obtain missiles and weapons of mass destruction. Indeed, Libya continues to pursue programs for the acquisition of WMD and missiles, which would threaten U.S. interests, and we continue active efforts to impede them. We continue to want Libya to find a way to address these concerns. For example, if Libya joined the Chemical Weapons Convention, that would be a welcome step towards answering the international community's concerns regarding Libya's WMD programs and a further signal of Libyan willingness to establish positive relations with other nations. That said, Libya is not Iraq. We do not seek to maintain sanctions until there is a change of regime in Tripoli. We have seen definite changes in Libya's behavior, specifically declining support for terrorism and increasing support for peace processes in the Middle East and Africa. We hope such changes signal Libya's willingness to behave as a responsible member of the international community. We would welcome a Libya that complied with all aspects of all UNSCR conditions, that refrained from the use of terror or support for terrorist groups to pursue its agenda, that abjured WMD and that helped to bring about peaceful resolutions to regional conflicts. (end text) (Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State)
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