The U.S. is to renew full diplomatic ties with Libya and take it off a list of states that back terrorism, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said. Rice called the resumption of relations the "tangible results" of Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi's decision in 2003 to renounce terrorism and abandon efforts to make weapons of mass destruction.
"I am pleased to announce that the United States is restoring full diplomatic relations with Libya. We will soon open an embassy in Tripoli," Rice said in a statement Monday. "In addition, the United States intends to remove Libya from the list of designated state sponsors of terrorism. Libya will also be omitted from the annual certification of countries not cooperating fully with United States' anti-terrorism efforts," she said.
The move comes a quarter-century after diplomatic relations were severed following the 1979 sacking of the U.S. embassy in Tripoli by protesters. Alleged Libyan-backed terrorist attacks in 1986 spurred the U.S. to launch air raids against Tripoli. Libya was also held responsible for the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 which crashed near Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 270 people, most of them Americans.
On terrorism, Libya had severed ties to its terrorist clients by 2001. There was concern that Libya had neither accepted responsibility nor made restitution for the bombing of Pan Am 103; but it did that when it paid the families of victims $2.7 billion. On WMD's, after the invasion of Iraq, Qadaffi acknowledged the country's nuclear weapons program and agreed to allow international inspectors to verify that he was ending his WMD programs.
"We are taking these actions in recognition of Libya's continued commitment to its renunciation of terrorism and the excellent cooperation Libya has provided to the United States and other members of the international community in response to common global threats faced by the civilized world since September 11, 2001," Rice said.
After Kadhafi agreed to open up Libya's weapon production sites to U.S. and British experts, the U.S. opened a a special interests section in Tripoli in February, 2004. This was upgraded to a "liaison office" on June 28 that year, officially reestablishing formal relations.