US tries to turn screw on Libya

Britain and other European countries reacted cautiously last night to an American call for a world-wide embargo on Libyan oil to force the surrender of two suspects sought for the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie in 1988.

The White House surprised its European allies with a sudden announcement that the US is to seek tough new sanctions against Tripoli at the United Nations Security Council next month.

The move came after relatives of the American victims of the bombing met the US National Security Adviser, Anthony Lake, who assured them of "the administration's unwavering opposition to terrorism and its continuing effort to bring about justice on behalf of Libya's victims".

But there was scepticism in Western European capitals about the effectiveness or desirability of an oil embargo. Spokesmen for the Foreign Office and the French Foreign Ministry said they had not yet been consulted by the Clinton administration. Diplomats did not expect the US proposal to win immediate or automatic support in the Security Council.

The Libyan leader, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, yesterday proclaimed his defiance of the existing UN sanctions by proposing to fly a group of Muslims to Mecca for the annual pilgrimage. He unhesitatingly described all of them as "ready for martyrdom".

Libya has refused to extradite the two wanted men, Abdel Basset Ali Meghrahi and Lamen Khalifa Fhimah. Both were indicted by the US and Scottish authorities in 1991 after a forensic investigation. Limited UN sanctions, banning air travel and imposing financial restrictions, were enacted in 1992.

Western security officials believe the two are being protected because they are intelligence agents and close tribal relations of Major Abdessalam Jalloud, the second most powerful man in the Libyan regime. Libya says the men are innocent and would not receive a fair trial in the US or in Scotland.

The stand-off prompted the US administration last week to add the men to the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list and to offer a $4m (£2.5) reward for their capture. The attempted prosecutions have also aroused controversy in the West, coupled with allegations that the possible involvement of Syria and Iran in the bombing has been covered up for political ends.

The Foreign Secretary, Douglas Hurd, recently took an unusually high- profile stance in the House of Commons to reject all the claims of a conspiracy to conceal the truth.

The US move to force Libya's hand is unlikely to be welcome in Europe because most European governments consider the situation almost ideal. Colonel Gaddafi has been rendered politically impotent. His economy is subject to stringent restrictions but his domestic powerbase remains relatively stable, preventing the overthrow of his regime and its possible replacement by fundamentalists.

There are also strong economic arguments in Europe against halting the export of Libyan oil. A militant but small-capacity Opec producer, Libya earns about $10bn a year from exports estimated at 1.2m barrels per day (bpd). Italy depends on Libyan crude for 500,000 bpd or 25 per cent of its daily needs, followed by Germany, Spain and Greece. Libyan oil is prized for its high grade quality and would be difficult to replace.

Despite its radical rhetoric, Colonel Gaddafi's regime has also gone to considerable lengths to construct a web of commercial relationships with international companies.

Sport
footballLIVE City face Stoke, while Warnock returns to Palace dugout
Arts and Entertainment
books
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
gadgets + techSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind the scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
News
i100
News
The slice of Prince Charles and Princess Diana's wedding cake and the original box from 29 July 1981
newsPiece of Charles and Diana's wedding cake sold at auction in US
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Junior VB.NET Application Developer (ASP.NET, SQL, Graduate)

£28000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior VB.NET ...

C# .NET Web Developer (ASP.NET, JavaScript, jQuery, XML, XLST)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Web De...

Clinical Negligence Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: HAMPSHIRE MARKET TOWN - A highly attr...

Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF, BGP, Multicast, WAN)

£35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF,...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone