Foreign Relations of Libya Under Muammar Gaddafi - Relations With The West

Relations With The West

In 2003 Libya began to make policy changes with the open intention of pursuing a Western-Libyan détente. The Libyan government announced its decision to abandon its weapons of mass destruction programs and pay almost $3 billion dollars in compensation to the families of Pan Am Flight 103 and UTA Flight 772.

Starting in 2003, the Libyan government restored normal diplomatic ties with the European Union and the United States and has even coined the catchphrase, "The Libya Model", an example intended to show the world what can be achieved through negotiation rather than force when there is goodwill on both sides.

On 31 October 2008, Libya paid $1.5 billion, sought through donations from private businesses, to a fund that would be used to compensate both US victims of the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103 and the 1986 bombing of the La Belle disco in Germany. In addition, Libyan victims of US airstrikes that followed the Berlin attack will also be compensated with $300 million from the fund. US state department spokesman, Sean McCormack called the move a "laudable milestone ... clearing the way for continued and expanding US-Libyan partnership." This final payment under the US-Libya Claims Settlement Agreement was seen as a major step towards improving ties between the two, which had begun easing after Tripoli halted its arms programmes. George Bush also signed an executive order restoring Libya's immunity from terror-related lawsuits and dismissing pending compensation cases.

On 17 November 2008, FCO minister Bill Rammell signed five agreements with Libya. Rammell said: "I will today sign four bilateral agreements with my Libyan counterpart, Abdulatti al-Obidi, which will strengthen our judicial ties, as agreed during Tony Blair's visit to Libya in May last year. In addition, we are signing today a Double Taxation Convention which will bring benefits to British business in Libya and Libyan investors in the UK – benefits in terms of certainty, clarity and transparency and reducing tax compliance burdens. We are also in the final stages of negotiating an agreement to protect and promote investment."

"UK/Libya relations have significantly improved in recent years, following Libya's voluntary renunciation of WMD. Today we are partners in the UN Security Council. We also wish to assist Libya to establish closer relations with the European Union to continue and strengthen the reintegration of Libya within the international community. We therefore support the commencement of negotiations between Libya and the EU on a framework agreement which should cover a range of issues including political, social, economic, commercial and cultural relations between the EU and Libya."

On 21 November 2008, the US Senate confirmed the appointment of Gene Cretz to be the first US ambassador to Libya since 1972.

During the Libyan civil war, all European Union and NATO member states withdrew diplomatic staff from Tripoli and shut their embassies in the Libyan capital. Several foreign embassies and UN offices were badly damaged by vandals on 1 May 2011, drawing condemnation from the United Kingdom and Italy. The UK also expelled the Libyan ambassador in London from the country.

On 1 July 2011, Gaddafi threatened to sponsor attacks against civilians and businesses in Europe in what would be a resumption of his policies of the 1970s and 1980s.

On 30 August 2008, Gaddafi and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi signed a historic cooperation treaty in Benghazi. Under its terms, Italy will pay $5 billion to Libya as compensation for its former military occupation. In exchange, Libya will take measures to combat illegal immigration coming from its shores and boost investments in Italian companies. The treaty was ratified by Italy in 6 February 2009, and by Libya on 2 March, during a visit to Tripoli by Berlusconi. In June, Gaddafi made his first visit to Rome, where he met Prime Minister Berlusconi, President Giorgio Napolitano, Senate President Renato Schifani, and Chamber President Gianfranco Fini, among others. The Democratic Party and Italy of Values opposed the visit, and many protests were staged throughout Italy by human rights organizations and the Radical Party. Gaddafi also took part in the G8 summit in L'Aquila in July as Chairman of the African Union.

In the 2005-2009 period, Italy has been the first EU arms exporter towards Libya, with a total value of €276.7m, of which one third only in the last 2008–2009 years. Italian exports cover one third of total EU arms exports towards Libya, and include mainly military aircraft but also missiles and electronic equipments.

During the Libyan civil war, Italy terminated relations with Tripoli and recognized the rebel authority in Benghazi as Libya's legitimate representative, effectively starting relations with the Libyan Republic. The Italian government has urged the international community to follow suit.

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