Washington — The Bush administration will keep a diplomatic and economic squeeze on Libya despite the country's acceptance of responsibility for the bombing of a Pan Am jetliner over Scotland in 1988.
Libya officially accepted responsibility in a letter delivered Friday to the Syrian ambassador to the United Nations, Mikhail Wehbe. The letter was part of a $2.7 billion settlement with the families of the 270 people killed in the bombing, most of them Americans.
Each of the families is likely to receive at least $5 million and could receive $10 million from a $2.7 billion fund that Libya will deposit next week in an international bank.
In two other letters delivered to the Syrian ambassador, whose government holds the presidency of the U.N. Security Council, Britain asserted it would submit a resolution to the U.N. Security Council to lift U.N. sanctions imposed in 1991 and the United States agreed not to stand in the way of the resolution.
The United States will intensify its efforts to end "threatening elements" of Libya's behavior and U.S. sanctions on Libya will remain in full force until Libya addresses these concerns, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said in a statement.
Secretary of State Colin Powell, in a statement, said "combating the evil of terrorism remains a paramount commitment of the United States. We will not relent in that continuing struggle."
Britain's ambassador to the United Nations, Emyr Jones Parry, said the Libyan letter "set out very clearly" that Libya has met the conditions for lifting U.N. sanctions and that the United States agreed.
However, a U.S. official told reporters the United States would probably abstain rather than vote for the resolution, would maintain U.S. sanctions against Libya and had no plan to remove Libya from the State Department's list of countries that sponsor terrorism.
In addition to Libya's alleged weapons program, a U.S. official cited human rights violations and Libya's meddling in the affairs of other African countries such as Sierra Leone, Chad and Liberia as reasons for not lifting sanctions. The official spoke on condition of anonymity.
On Capitol Hill, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., said Libya's acceptance of responsibility for the bombing was a major victory for the United States and the families of the victims.
He commended the Bush administration and said in a statement that "America must continue working to see that all those involved in the attack are brought to justice."
Earlier, Powell and Assistant Secretary of State William Burns met with Flight 103 families in a department auditorium.
Afterward, Daniel Cohen of Cape May Court House, N.J., whose daughter, Theodora, died in the bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland, said "the United States should have no relationship whatsoever with what is a criminal, terrorist, murdering regime."
Cohen said "the leader of Libya killed that girl. I don't want to see us make up with him ever, ever, ever under any circumstances."