Blair hails 'new relationship' with Libya

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The Independent Online

Tony Blair today said that Libya had given "full and transparent co-operation" in the dismantling of its weapons of mass destruction programmes since Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's historic declaration last December that he was giving up illicit arms.

Tony Blair today said that Libya had given "full and transparent co-operation" in the dismantling of its weapons of mass destruction programmes since Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's historic declaration last December that he was giving up illicit arms.

Speaking in the Libyan capital Tripoli following talks with Colonel Gaddafi, the Prime Minister said progress on arms meant it was time for "a new relationship" with the former pariah state.

Today's meeting marks the latest step in Libya's return to the international mainstream following decades of sanctions as a result of Gaddafi's support for terror attacks, including the bombing of Pan-Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie.

Mr Blair said: "Libya's voluntary and open implementation of that decision gives us real hope that we can build a new relationship with it, one for the modern world."

Mr Blair said Col Gaddafi recognised Libya's future "is best secured by a new relationship with the outside world".

There was also a recognition of a "common cause with us in the fight against al Qaida, extremism and terrorism which threatens not just the western world but the Arab world also", he said.

"None of this, as I explained, can alter the pain of past actions," the Prime Minister added.

"In respect of Lockerbie, Libya has accepted UN resolutions on this, accepted responsibility for the actions of its agents and has agreed compensation in respect of the victims.

"Libya has also agreed to a further visit on April 3 by the Metropolitan Police Service in respect of the murder of WPc Yvonne Fletcher.

"We have kept and will continue to keep the relatives affected by such actions fully informed.

"In reaching out the hand of partnership today, we do not forget the past.

"But we do try in the light of the genuine changes happening to move beyond them."

Mr Blair continued: "Of course, we must be aware of the pitfalls. Trust on both sides will take time to establish.

"But the signs are better than they have been for many years.

"And the future prize in terms of security not just of this region but the wider world - indeed our own country - is great."

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