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Bush sends senator to Libya in step to normalize relations

August 18, 2005

CRAWFORD, Texas (Reuters) – President George W. Bush is
sending Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard
Lugar to Libya in another step toward normalizing relations
after Tripoli decided to abandon weapons of mass destruction,
the White House said on Thursday.

“Senator Lugar will also travel to Libya for official
meetings as a part of the president’s initiative to move toward
more normal relations reflecting that country’s renunciation of
terrorism and abandonment of its weapons of mass destruction
and longer range missiles,” White House spokeswoman Dana Perino
said.

Lugar, an Indiana Republican, will go to Libya August
19-20, but it was not yet clear which officials he would meet,
Perino said. “His schedule is still being ironed out.”

A congressional official said Lugar planned to press Libyan
officials to continue coordinating the scrapping of its weapons
of mass destruction programs with the goal of eventually being
removed from a U.S. list of sponsors of terrorism.

Lugar’s trip will be the highest-profile U.S. visit to
Libya, following visits by officials from the Treasury and
State departments.

Stuart Levey, U.S. Treasury undersecretary for terrorism
and financial intelligence, went to Libya in June and met with
Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and other officials to press
Tripoli to take a tougher stance against terrorism financing
and money laundering.

The United States is making an effort to normalize its
relations with the North African country after Libya accepted
responsibility for the 1988 Pan Am bombing over Lockerbie,
Scotland, and said it would give up weapons of mass
destruction.

The reward for Gaddafi has been a return to the
international fold and prospects for foreign investment.

Top Western officials who have visited Libya include
Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, British Prime Minister
Tony Blair, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, French
President Jacques Chirac and Italian Prime Minister Silvio
Berlusconi.




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