27 August 1998
(UN ambassador says Qadhafi remarks unclear) (460) By Judy Aita USIA United Nations Correspondent United Nations -- US Ambassador A. Peter Burleigh characterized comments by Libyan leader Mu'ammar Qadhafi August 27 on the US/UK proposal to try the Lockerbie suspects in the Netherlands as "unclear and conditional." Commenting on a television interview with the Libyan leader, Burleigh said "it was not a clear acceptance -- at least I didn't understand it to be." "I thought the language was confusing and conditional in a way that led me to the feeling that he was temporizing while appearing to be forthcoming," the ambassador said. In his first public statement since the US/UK offer, Qadhafi said: "I think Libya has no objection ... but I am not sure America and the United Kingdom have good intentions to solve this problem." Qadhafi insisted on clear arrangements for handing over the two. "I am not sure these governments seriously want to solve this problem, I expect tricks and conditions to make the trial impossible," he said. Libya has also asked the Security Council to postpone the vote, saying it wanted more time to study the documents involved in the case and to consult legal experts. Burleigh, the US representative to the Security Council, said the United States and the United Kingdom "are not playing games. What we're doing is very straightforward and direct." "We're not the ones playing games. He's the one, I'm afraid," the ambassador said. "If you look carefully at the agreement between the Dutch and the British Governments, you'll notice there are a whole lot of details about the procedures that are going to be followed and guarantees regarding the safety and security of the two accused," the US ambassador said. The Security Council is expected to vote later in the evening on a resolution proposed by the US and UK that would suspend sanctions against Libya when the two bombing suspects are in Dutch custody. Burleigh said the United States is "looking forward to a very solid vote. We hope it's unanimous." Bringing the suspects to trial "is something that the US Government has been waiting for for a long time," he said, (and) "we hope that this action by the Council will immediately cause Libya to comply ... and produce the two accused in the Netherlands as quickly as possible." "It's a major step forward in this case that's been pending way too long," the ambassador said. "The families, as well as the governments of the families involved, have been waiting for nine long years for this case to be brought to closure and we are very pleased at the action the Council is poised to take this evening."