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EU lifts weapons embargo on Libya

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EU lifts weapons embargo on Libya

European Union foreign ministers have agreed to end sanctions against Libya, including an arms embargo.

Italy had argued for the lifting of the 18-year-old arms ban, so that it could supply Libya with hi-tech equipment intended to curb illegal migration.

The ministers, meeting in Luxembourg, also agreed to tighten EU sanctions against Burma's military regime, accused of human rights abuses.

The sanctions include an EU-wide travel ban on high-ranking Burmese officers.

EU ambassadors decided on 22 September that the sanctions on Libya - imposed in 1992 - should be lifted.

But ministers have now gone further in removing the arms embargo, which dates back to 1986.

Italy has spearheaded diplomatic moves to bring Libya closer to the EU.

Also on the agenda in Luxembourg are:

Proposals to lift the EU arms embargo against China

The hunt for war crimes suspects in the former Yugoslavia

Iran's nuclear programme.

Immigration crisis

Italy wants Libya to patrol its coastline more effectively and catch the hundreds of illegal migrants who try to reach Europe by sea each month. It wants the EU to allow exports to Libya of equipment such as binoculars and boats.

The United States lifted its trade embargo on Libya last month.

The EU and the US imposed sanctions on Libya in 1986 in retaliation for what they saw as Libyan support for terrorist groups.

UN sanctions were imposed in 1992 to force Tripoli to hand over two Libyans indicted for the 1988 bombing of a US airliner over Lockerbie in Scotland.

They were suspended after the two Libyans were handed over for trial in 1999 and then abolished last year after Libya agreed to compensate the families of the 270 victims, as well as those of the 1989 bombing of a French airliner over Niger.

Washington lifted its sanctions against Tripoli as a reward for Col Muammar Gaddafi's decision to scrap weapons of mass destruction.

The BBC's Oana Lungescu in Luxembourg says the EU is very interested in developing economic ties with Libya, Italy's biggest oil supplier.

But the EU wants Libya to improve its very poor human rights record, she adds.

Burma concerns

The EU has condemned the continuing house arrest of Burmese human rights activist and Nobel peace prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi.

It has also demanded an end to harassment of her National League for Democracy and criticised the lack of open debate in a national convention launched by the military regime in May.

Along with the visa ban on officers ranked brigadier-general and above, the EU on Monday approved a ban on investment in state-run enterprises in Burma.

Story from BBC NEWS:

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Libya arrests 'al-Qaeda' suspects

Libya has arrested 17 members of a group linked to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network, officials say.

Interior Minister Nasser al-Mabruk said the nature of the links was not yet clear, but the inquiry was continuing.

The men had entered Libya illegally and were arrested as soon as they arrived, the minister added.

Correspondents say Libya is emerging from decades of international isolation after abandoning its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction last year.

Last month Washington lifted its trade embargo against Tripoli as a reward for Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's decision.

The EU and the US imposed trade sanctions in 1986 in retaliation for what they saw as Libyan support for terrorist groups.

"The preliminary investigations proved that this group of 17 people had relations to Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda organisation, but the form and nature of this relationship is not yet clear," Egypt's official Middle East News Agency (MENA) quoted the minister as saying.

Libya remains on a US list of state sponsors of "terrorism".

Story from BBC NEWS:

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One can only bless Qaddafi's change, but Lybia is still a dictatorship, and as such will always be a threat to the free democracies of the world.

Thus, a United Democratic Nations should be created, uniting all free countries in cause and values.

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I think we pretty much don't care about the dictatorship anymore if taking away sanctions stops the flood of immigrants.... ironically I've met some and they refuse to hear a bad word about Gadaffi, going on about 'President' not 'dictator' and how he's a great man. if thats the case why are you now an Asylum seeker in North Europe rolleyes.gif

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