Source Pravda.Ru

Libya: First visit by British minister in 20 years

Slowly but surely, Tripoli eases back into the fold

A Foreign Office Minister is the first British government minister to visit Libya since 1983, a clear sign that talks are developing between Tripoli and the international community and that business is set to be resumed.

Diplomatic links were broken off in 1984 after diplomatic personnel in the Libyan Embassy in London strafed a crowd outside, killing Yvonne Fletcher, a policewoman. Diplomatic relations were restored in April, 1999.

Foreign Office Minister Michael O’Brien, responsible for the Middle East, arrived in Tripoli on Tuesday to begin talks with Libyan government officials. He met the Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi and the Libyan Foreign Minister, Abdurrahman Shalgam and ministers from Libya’s cultural bureau.

The United Kingdom and the USA were the two countries most vehement in their opposition to the Libyan regime in the past two decades over the question of international terrorism and Gaddafi’s links to terrorist attacks. Mr. O’Brien will urge Libya to join the Chemical Weapons Convention and take steps to ban weapons of mass destruction.

Gaddafi, however, seemed to undergo a change after a US strike on his country, in which he lost a daughter. He has been instrumental in organising the African Union behind the scenes and appears on the world stage as a statesman of growing authority.

A Foreign Office spokesperson declared that “There are many signs that Libya is turning away from international terrorism. They were among the first countries to denounce the September 11th attacks and offered help to the Americans, something which cannot be underestimated”. Colonel Gaddafi’s regime was the first to issue an arrest warrant against Osama Bin Laden in the early 1990s after a terrorist attack in Libya killed two Germans.

John ASHTEAD PRAVDA.Ru

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