UNITED NATIONS (AP) – The U.N. Security Council delayed a vote
to lift sanctions against Libya until Friday, after France
threatened a veto to gain greater compensation for the relatives of
people killed in a French airline bombing.

After difficult closed-door negotiations, the council yesterday
agreed to give the French a last chance to win a settlement with
Libya similar to that for families of victims of the Lockerbie air
disaster.

But Britain’s U.N. ambassador, Emyr Jones Parry, the current
council president, and other members made clear they would not
accept more delays.

In a fast-moving day of diplomacy, French Foreign Minister
Dominique de Villepin spoke twice with his British counterpart,
Jack Straw, threatening to veto the lifting of sanctions unless
families of the 1989 UTA bombing were satisfied.

The French Foreign Ministry said in a statement that “a fair
agreement … appears to be within reach.” But Foreign Ministry
spokesman Herve Ladsous said, “The victims’ families must confirm
their satisfaction with the negotiations – that would be the
deciding factor for us.”

The United States and Britain have pressed for a vote since Aug.
15, when Libya agreed to a $2.7 billion compensation deal for
families of the 270 Lockerbie bombing victims and acknowledged
responsibility for the attack. The deal will give each victim’s
family $5 million to $10 million, a settlement that embarrassed
France.

The French government settled with Libya in 1999 for just $33
million to be shared by families of the 170 people killed in the
bombing of a UTA flight over Niger in 1989.

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