INTERNATIONAL

U.S. lifts most sanctions

WASHINGTON, APRIL 24. In lifting most of the sanctions against Libya, the Bush administration has made it known that it is proceeding with a degree of caution when it comes to dealing with a country once reviled in many political quarters here.

On Friday the White House moved to relax most of the American sanctions against Libya especially as it pertained to investments and commercial activities but still keeping the ban on air travel and certain type of exports.

Officials have said that the move was after a number of steps that had been taken by Libya on the terrorism front and in voluntarily coming forward to eliminate weapons of mass destruction.

"Through its actions, Libya has set a standard that we hope other nations will emulate in rejecting weapons of mass destruction and in working constructively with international organisations to halt the proliferation of the world's most dangerous systems," the White House said in Statement.

The lifting of sanctions means that most commercial businesses, investment and trade with Libya can now happen and the United States will also not `punish' other countries doing business with that West Asian nation.

One report has it that Libya has already scheduled the loading of one million barrels of crude to an American company. But since Libya is still in the State Department's list of nations sponsoring terrorism, some restrictions in exports will apply.

"Restrictions will continue to apply to exports of dual use items with military potential including potential for WMD or missile applications. Exports to Libya of defence articles and services on the U.S. munitions list remain prohibited," the White House has said.

The administration has also made it known that direct air links and third country code sharing are not yet authorised but this February Washington dropped its two decade old ban on Americans travelling to Libya and spending money in that country.

The lifting of commercial restrictions will also mean that Libyan students can now come to the United States for study subject to admissions and visa eligibility.

One of the things that has been made clear is that the lifting of sanctions does not detract Tripoli's obligations of compensation payment to the families of the victims of the Lockerbie bombing of Pan Am flight 103 in 1988.

The White House has also said that "in recognition of our deepening dialogue and diplomatic engagement on a broader range of issues," the State Department will be establishing a liaison office in Tripoli pending Congressional notification; and the administration has made it known that the "necessity of ending any tie to terrorist groups or activities will continue to be a central issue in relations with Libya."

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