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Libya pledge: Victims' families angry

Gadhafi has admitted Libya was responsible for Lockerbie bombing.
Gadhafi has admitted Libya was responsible for Lockerbie bombing.

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CNN's David Ensor reports that Libya has a sizeable stockpile of chemical weapons, but appears to have stopped producing them years ago.
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- World leaders and politicians have welcomed the Libyan decision to abandon its weapons of mass destruction -- but relatives of victims of Libyan actions abroad say an apparent deal by the West amounts to rewarding terror.

The mother of British policewoman Yvonne Fletcher, who was shot dead in front of the Libyan embassy in London in 1984, said that any pledge from Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi had to be taken "with a pinch of salt."

Queenie Fletcher told Britain's Mail on Sunday: "I don't think it is very important. It is all right to say you are going to get rid of these weapons, but you have got to see whether Gadhafi actually does anything in the end."

Sunday is the 15th anniversary of the downing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 259 people abroad and 11 on the ground.

Relatives of victims were skeptical about the timing of the new diplomacy from Tripoli -- despite British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw saying Gadhafi should be applauded for his "statesmanlike and courageous" actions. (World welcomes deal)

The U.S. and Britain gave clear signs that Gadhafi's announcement on Friday that he would renounce his WMD ambitions could lead to the final lifting of sanctions imposed in the wake of Lockerbie. (Full story)

Gadhafi admitted earlier this year that Libya was responsible for the deaths of 270 people in the bombing and agreed to pay compensation worth more than $2 billion to relatives of the victims. A Libyan agent is serving a life sentence in a Scottish jail for his part in the 1988 bombing.

The sharpest criticisms to Libya's pledge came from family members of those aboard the Pan Am plane.

"What I get from this is Gadhafi massacred 189 Americans at 31,000 feet and he's now being rewarded by the United States, where President Bush and Prime Minister Blair become willing partners," said Bert Ammerman, a spokesman for the Lockerbie victims' families and whose brother was killed in the bombing.

"The country is not a problem with me. If Gadhafi wasn't in power, I'd be a big advocate of this. But the United States has not learned how to deal with foreign policy or have a moral backbone."

Ammerman said he supports wholeheartedly going after the leaders of countries that sponsor terrorism and that Gadhafi "has a proven track record of state-sponsored terrorism."

Victoria Cummock, president of Families of Pan Am 103, said: "It does concern me that they aren't going to be held to the conditions of the sanctions, because I don't think that will be enough to deter future violent attacks against Americans if we just decide that money is all the criminal accountability and consequences that Libya should be held up for."

Jim Swire, who lost his 23-year-old daughter Flora in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing, described the move as "positive progress" but told Britain's Sunday Telegraph that he was not confident that the culprits for the bombing had been brought to justice.

A spokesman for UK Families Flight 103 told PA that the group was determined to achieve a "just resolution."

"In recent suspicious deaths of individuals, independent inquiries have rightly been instigated," he said.

"Yet the Government use the passage of time to erase the need to hold such an inquiry into the unresolved murders of 270 people -- the biggest mass murder of the 20th century on British soil.

"Despite the inquiries that have taken place, we have never been given a forum in which to ask the big and important questions."

Senior Libyan officials met the director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, Saturday to start the lengthy process of dismantling the north African state's nuclear, biological and chemical weapons capabilities. (Full story)

Libya's six-member delegation was led by Dr. Matug Muhammed Matug, secretary of the National Board of Scientific Research, a IAEA spokesman said. Though he said he was not sure whether the group had returned to Tripoli, "their official business is complete now."

Prime Minister Tony Blair's office denied reports that Prime Minister Tony Blair and U.S. President George Bush were due to meet Gadhafi for face-to-face talks to seal the deal.

"There are no plans for this," a No. 10 Downing Street spokesman told the UK's Press Association.

The spokesman declined to comment on press reports that Gadhafi had handed over details of hundreds of members of terror network al Qaeda as part of the deal leading to Friday's announcement.

U.S. Rep. Edward Markey (D-Massachusetts) criticized what he saw as double standards in the Bush administration's policy of downplaying the importance of inspections in Iraq before the war but welcoming them in Libya's case.

"I welcome the president's decision to rely on International Atomic Energy Agency inspections to ensure that Moammar Gadhafi lives up to this new agreement. However, this is difficult to reconcile with the administration's previous ridicule of IAEA inspectors in Iraq," Markey said.

"President Bush started a war in Iraq on the grounds that, according to his administration, the anytime-anywhere IAEA inspection process was a joke. ... American soldiers are now dying daily in Iraq because the United States deemed the IAEA's search for weapons of mass destruction to be totally unworthy of support," he added.


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