US resumes full ties with Libya |
The United States restored full diplomatic ties with Libya on Monday, rewarding the longtime pariah nation for scrapping its weapons of mass destruction programmes and signalling incentives for Iran and North Korea if they do the same.
Culminating a years-long rapprochement with the Opec member, Washington will reopen an embassy and remove Libya from a list of state sponsors of terrorism within 45 days.
US-Libya relations turned around after Tripoli decided in December 2003 to give up its weapons programme, and the two nations have repeatedly said since then they would work to restore ties as Libya followed through on its pledge.
"Just as 2003 marked a turning point for the Libyan people, so too could 2006 mark turning points for the peoples of Iran and North Korea," said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who is leading international pressure on the two countries to limit their nuclear programmes.
Libya, which is led by one-time US antagonist Muammar Gaddafi, badly needs foreign investment in its energy industry. Its Foreign Ministry called the US move a "significant step" toward improving all areas of bilateral cooperation.
Ali Aujali, the Libyan Liaison Office chief in Washington, said the decision would benefit US oil companies. "Now I think they can compete with the other companies and they can go ahead with their job in Libya," he said.