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END WAR: Neocon McCain-Graham Bow To Gaddafi, Discuss Terrorist Release, BP Oil, & Weapons Aug 2009

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Published on Mar 30, 2011

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AP Friday, August 14, 2009 9:46 PM A delegation of US senators led by former Republican Presidential candidate John McCain met with Libyan leaders on Friday in Tripoli to discuss the possible delivery of non-lethal defence equipment.Libyan TV showed the American delegation, which also included Senators Joseph Lieberman, Susan Collins and Lindsey Graham, meeting Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi as well as his son, and national security adviser, Mutassim.The visit and Washington's offer of military equipment was another sign of the improving ties between the formerlongtime adversaries.A halting, five-year rapprochement between the two countries began in 2003 when Gadhafi renounced extremism and weapons of mass destruction and accepted his government's responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing and paid compensation to the victims' families.Earlier this year, Washington posted an ambassador to Libya for the first time in 36 years.Senator McCain, however in a news conference after the meeting, said the U.S. remained concerned about Libya's record on human rights and political reform.The US State Department's 2008 human rights report on Libya says problems include reported disappearances,torture, arbitrary arrests and the detention of political prisoners. The report also cites a lack of civil liberties, restrictions on freedom of religion and discrimination against women and ethnic minorities.The meeting came amid speculation that the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing could be released early from a Scottish prison on compassionate grounds. Abdel Baset Ali al-Megrahi, who is terminally ill with cancer, is serving a life sentence for the attack on Pan Am Flight 103.The former Libyan secret service agent is the sole person convicted for the December 1988 bombing of Pan Am 103 that killed 270 people, most of them Americans. He was arrested in 1991 and held under house arrest in Libya until handed over in 1998 to Britain. He was convicted in 2001 by a special Scottish court set held at Kamp van Zeist in the Netherlands. The Libyan government applied in May to have al-Megrahi repatriated under a prison transfer agreement it has with Britain.Separately, al-Megrahi applied in July for release on compassionate grounds, claiming he was terminally ill with prostate cancer.Talking to reporters in Tripoli, delegation member Senator John McCain said he understood no formal decision had been made regarding the release of al-Megrahi, but did not elaborate. A State Department spokesman told reporters on Friday that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton had called Scottish Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill in the past day and "expressed strongly" the U.S. view that "al-Megrahi should serve out the entirety of his sentence in Scotland.' US-Libyan relations hit a low in the 1980s, but began to improve after Gadhafi, whom former US President Ronald Reagan once famously called the "mad dog of the Middle East", renounced weapons of mass destruction in 2003. Gadhafi engineered a rapprochement with his former critics following the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States. He voluntarily dismantled Libya's secret programme to develop nuclear weapons, earning commitments from Britain and the United States to work together to contain the threat of international militant extremism.

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