Talks offered over Lockerbie suspects

Britain is ready for the first time to talk to Libya about the hand-over of two men suspected of the Lockerbie bombing, Douglas Hurd, the Foreign Secretary, said last night.

Until now the Government has insisted there is nothing to talk about and the Libyan government should comply with the United Nations order to release the men for trial in Scotland or the US.

Mr Hurd told the Council for the Advancement of Arab-British Understanding in London that the Government was now willing to discuss the 'mechanics' of any hand-over. But he warned: 'Until they have convinced us that they have taken that decision, there is nothing really to talk about.'

He said Libya was showing signs of willingness to cut links with international terrorists, including the IRA, but the Lockerbie suspects held the key to ending UN sanctions. It is understood the Government might be willing to discuss previous Libyan offers to hand the men to an intermediary, such as the Arab League or the UN.