Tuesday, May 16, 2006

globeandmail.com : U.S. rewards Libya's Gadhafi by restoring full diplomatic ties

globeandmail.com : U.S. rewards Libya's Gadhafi by restoring full diplomatic ties:

"WASHINGTON -- The United States announced it was restoring full diplomatic relations with Libya yesterday, a reward President George W. Bush says is also on offer to other rogue states if they forsake nuclear weapons.

'Abandoning the pursuit of illegal weapons can lead to better relations with the United States,' Mr. Bush said in a statement released to mark the announcement about Libya -- and clearly aimed at those states he has repeatedly fingered: North Korea, Iran and Syria.

'Continuing to seek those weapons will not bring security or international prestige, but only political isolation, economic hardship, and other unwelcome consequences,' Mr. Bush warned, outlining the carrots-and-sticks approach to superpower diplomacy.

Those 'unwelcome consequences' include full-blown war, like that launched in 2003 to topple Saddam Hussein in Iraq after he defied a decade of UN-authorized sanctions.

In the aftermath of that war, Libya quietly dropped its anti-American stand, cut a secret deal to dismantle its nuclear- and chemical-weapons programs and paid $2.7-billion (U.S.) in compensation to the families of 270 people killed in the Lockerbie bombing.

'Just as 2003 marked a turning point for the Libyan people, so too could 2006 mark turning points for the peoples of Iran and North Korea,' U.S. State Secretary Condoleezza Rice said yesterday in announcing the normalization of relations.

Libya accepted responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing. It was blamed for a 1986 Berlin nightclub bombing that killed three people and injured more than 170, many of them U.S. servicemen, and the downing of a French airliner in 1989, killing 170 people.

Twenty years and one month to the day after U.S. warplanes screamed across Tripoli's night skies, bombing several targets in an unsuccessful attempt to kill Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, the long, slow rapprochement between the repressive regime in North Africa and the world's sole remaining superpower now seems complete.

But it remains unclear if the mercurial Colonel Gadhafi, who seized power in a bloodless coup in 1969 and has ruled Libya with unchallenged unpredictability ever since, has fully abandoned his confrontations with the West.

'Allah will grant Islam victory in Europe, without swords, without guns, without conquests,' he told the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera news channel last month. 'The 50 million Muslims of Europe will turn it into a Muslim continent within a few decades.

'Europe is in a predicament, and so is America. They should agree to become Islamic in the course of time, or else declare war on the Muslims.'"

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