Reuters – 2006-04-17 00:32:43
TRIPOLI (April 15, 2006) — Libya on Saturday marked the 20th anniversary of a US bombing raid that killed an estimated 40 people by renewing a demand that Washington apologize and pay compensation.
A statement by the official news agency JANA also repeated a call that relations between the two countries, now undergoing a gradual rapprochement after years of turmoil, be conducted on an equal footing and without violence.
Former US President Ronald Reagan ordered the 1986 overnight air strikes in response to a bombing of a West Berlin discotheque used by US servicemen that killed three people and wounded up to 200. Washington blamed the bombing on Libya.
“The Libyan people renewed their call for an apology,” the statement said of the raid, in which Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s 15-month-old adopted daughter Hanna was killed.
“The Libyan people reaffirm their right to compensation for the aggression from those who caused the killing of many women, children and elderly. The Libyan people also reaffirm their readiness to develop their relations with the American people far from the logic of force pursued by Reagan.”
Libya began to emerge from more than a decade of international ostracism in 2003 when it accepted responsibility and began paying compensation for the bombing of airliners over Scotland and Niger in 1988 and 1989.
It promised to dismantle its nuclear, chemical and biological programmes and signed additional protocols with the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency. But Libyan officials have long complained of what they see as the slow pace of detente with Washington.
The United States said in March Libya would remain on the State Department’s list of countries that sponsor terrorism for the time being, despite what US officials have described as Tripoli’s help on security matters.
Presence on the terrorism list bars a country from getting US arms, controls sale of items with military and civilian applications, limits US aid and requires Washington to vote against loans from international financial institutions.
When Reagan died in June 2004, Gaddafi said he regretted that the former US president had died without ever being tried for what he called his crime against Libyan children — Hanna was one of several infants among the dead.
In 2004, Libya agreed to accept civil responsibility for the Berlin bombing and paid $35 million compensation to more than 160 victims. But despite the agreement, the north African country maintains its denial that it carried out the attack.
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