"The agreement is being pursued on a purely humanitarian basis and does
not constitute an admission of fault by either party," State Department
deputy spokesman Robert Wood said. "Rather, pursuant to the agreement, an
international Humanitarian Settlement Fund will be established in Libya to
collect the necessary resources for the claims on both sides."
Officials said the agreement would clear the way for normalization of
relations between Tripoli and Washington. They said this could include U.S.
military and security exports to Libya, who has sought advanced systems to
protect its huge desert border as well as military modernization.
The accord was signed on Aug. 14 in Tripoli by visiting U.S. Assistant
of Secretary of State David Welch and Libyan Deputy Foreign Minister Ahmed
Fituri. Neither official disclosed the amount of compensation.
"This agreement signed today is designed to resolve the last major
historical issue that has stood in the way of a more normal relationship
between our two countries," Welch said.
On Aug. 4, President George Bush signed into law legislation that would
facilitate Libyan compensation of the victims of a 1988 airline bombing over
Lockerbie, Scotland. The law would also allow American victims of a 1986
bombing of a German disco to sue Libya. After Tripoli was deemed as having
compensated the victims of these two attacks, the North African country
would be granted immunity from any additional U.S. claims.
Officials said the signing of the compensation claims agreement would
pave the way for funding by Congress of the construction of a U.S. embassy
in Tripoli and Senate approval of an American ambassador. They said
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice would prepare to visit Tripoli as early
as October 2008.