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Libya’s preliminary $2.7 billion offer to families of 270 people killed in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am 103 is not the “be-all and end-all” to lifting sanctions against Moammar Gadhafi’s country, the Bush administration said Wednesday. Lawyers for the families, who announced the offered compensation package, said Libya conditioned its payment on revocation by the United Nations and the United States of all punitive sanctions. Cautioning that no official offer is on the table, Secretary of State Colin Powell said: “It certainly is a step in the right direction, but I don’t think it resolves the entire issue, resolves all the outstanding issues that have to be dealt with with respect to Libya and Pan Am 103.” As word came from Tripoli that lawyers on both sides might be close to agreement on settling a 1996 lawsuit by victims’ families against the Libyan government, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Libya’s ability to reach agreement with the families “would be a highly significant factor as we went forward to consider how to proceed.” “But at this point,” Boucher said, “it’s the first of a variety of things, requirements that need to be fulfilled. It’s not the be-all and end-all of the whole process.” The United States still insists, Boucher said, that Libya meet other requirements set forth in the U.N. Security Council resolution that imposed international sanctions: full disclosure by the Libyans of all information surrounding the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103; formal acceptance of responsibility; renunciation of terrorism; and a clean break of all ties with terror groups. Of the 270 victims in the bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland, 189 were Americans. How their survivors feel about Libya’s compensation offer, which amounts to $10 million per family, will be a big factor in the administration’s determination of the next steps, Boucher said. So far, those feelings range from outrage to grudging acceptance. “For us to accept $10 million when there’s a mass murder that took place and no admission of guilt is given, you’re saying you can kill as many Americans as you want, and we’ll look the other way,” said Victoria Cummock, from Coral Gables, Fla., whose husband John was killed. Georgia Nucci, who lost her 20-year-old son, Christopher Jones, said she would accept Libya’s offer but still demands an apology. In a five-page letter to family members, the New York-based law firm Kreindler & Kreindler called the Libyan offer a “vast multiple” of settlements paid in any other aviation or terrorism case. Under the agreement, the money would be placed in escrow and released piecemeal: 40 percent when U.N. sanctions were lifted, 40 percent with removal of U.S. commercial sanctions; and 20 percent when Libya had been removed from the State Department’s list of sponsors of international terrorism. The separate U.S. sanctions include a trade ban and freeze of Libyan assets in the United States, which resulted from the bombing of a West Berlin nightclub in 1986 that killed an American soldier and a Turkish woman. Daniel Cohen of Cape May Court House, N.J., whose only child, Theodora, was killed, decried the strings attached. “It puts us in the position of being cheerleaders for Gadhafi,” said Cohen. The administration is recommending neither that families accept nor reject the offer, which was negotiated “lawyer to lawyer” without State Department involvement, Boucher said. But Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., who has followed the case for years, greeted Libya’s offer with scorn. “U.S. policy will be determined by changes in Libyan behavior, not by conditions imposed by the Libyan government on compensation for the families of Pan Am 103,” Kennedy said. The Libyan government has not commented on the agreement. An official in Tripoli confirmed a “preliminary deal” without going into detail, although Libya’s foreign minister, Abdel-Rahman Shalqam, later denied that Libya has anything to do with “whatever may have been reached.” “I … state that Libya, officially, was not a party to these talks,” Shalqam told The Associated Press in the Libyan capital, Tripoli. The official said a “political meeting” will be held June 6 in London to include U.S. and Libyan government officials. Last year, a Scottish court convicted a Libyan intelligence agent, Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, of murder for smuggling an explosive aboard the Dec. 21, 1988, flight. A co-defendant was acquitted. All 259 people on the plane were killed. Eleven more were killed on the ground. Libya has indicated a moderating of behavior recently, a point underscored in the State Department’s annual report on terrorism released last week. “Libya appears to have curtailed its support for international terrorism, although it may maintain residual contacts with a few groups,” the report said. Discussing Libyan compliance with U.N. demands, the Kreindler & Kreindler statement noted that Libya met the requirement years ago that al-Megrahi be turned over for trial. The firm also said Libya has substantially met the requirement that it renounce terrorism. As for Libyan acceptance of responsibility for the bombing, it said negotiations on that issue involving the United States, Britain and Libya may soon be concluded successfully. It added that the requirement for compensation will soon be met, based on the $2.7 billion Libya offer. Copyright 2002 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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