Libya, Britain Resuming Ties

After Tripoli agreed to cooperate in police investigations into the 1984 shooting of a British policewoman outside Libya's embassy in London, Britain on Wednesday said it was resuming diplomatic relations with Libya.

Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said Libya also had agreed to pay compensation for the killing. Â"The two agreements we have secured open the way for us to resume diplomatic relations with Libya,Â" Cook told parliament.

Â"I am upgrading immediately the British Interests Section in Tripoli to embassy status. We will, as quickly as practical, appoint an ambassador and bring the embassy up to full strength,Â" Cook said.

Before making his announcement, Cook met Libya's ambassador to Italy, Abdul-Ati al-Obeidi, who held a series of talks since April in Rome, Geneva and London with British officials to clear the way towards restoring ties, which were cut off in 1984.

Cook said he and Obeidi agreed a joint statement in which Libya Â"accepts general responsibility for the actions of those in the Libyan People's bureau at the time of the shooting.Â"

Â"They express deep regret to the family (of the dead policewoman) for what occurred and offer to pay compensation now to the family. Libya agrees to participate and cooperate with the continuing police investigation and to accept its outcome,Â" Cook added.

Libya's U.N. ambassador attributed the apparent rapprochement with Britain to Tripoli's surrender of two suspects in the Lockerbie bombing case and said it was time U.N. sanctions were lifted.

Calling the resumption of ties "the natural thing," Ambassador Abuzed Omar Dorda added – in apparent reference to the United States – that Libya was ready to sit down and talk to anyone "as we did with Britain and reach solutions in our bilateral relations."

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