Gaddafi must tread delicately at UN: US

Washington’s UN ambassador warned Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi today against aggravating raw US emotions over the Lockerbie bombing when he visits the UN this month.
Libyan official Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, jailed in Scotland for the 1988 bombing of an airliner over the town of Lockerbie, was sent home last month due to terminal cancer. His release and a welcome he received on returning to Libya caused anger in the US, home to two thirds of the 270 victims, Reuters reports.
“This is a very raw and sensitive subject for all Americans, having lost our compatriots in a terrorist act,” Ambassador Susan Rice told a news conference on UN business in September, when the United States chairs the Security Council.
“How President Gaddafi chooses to comport himself when he attends the General Assembly and the Security Council in New York has the potential either to aggravate those feelings and emotions or not.”
Gaddafi is scheduled to visit the General Assembly for the first time in his 40 years as ruler of Libya. He will address the annual gathering of world leaders on September 23, directly after US President Obama.
His expected presence has already caused anger. The US government has blocked a plan for him to stay at a Libyan-owned property in Englewood, New Jersey, following local protests.
Rice declined to discuss if restrictions had been placed on Gaddafi’s movements in the US, but said, “It’s my understanding from Libyan counterparts that their intention is to confine their program to New York City.”
“Out of order”
Following a diplomatic chill of many years, the US restored full relations with Libya in 2006, responding to Gaddafi’s December 2003 announcement that he would scrap Libya’s nuclear, chemical and biological arms programs.
The US is required by a 1947 treaty with the UN to allow foreign leaders to attend UN proceedings in New York.
Apart from his General Assembly speech, Gaddafi is also expected to speak at a Security Council meeting the following day that Obama will chair the first US president ever to do so. Libya currently has a seat on the council.
Asked if Gaddafi might use the occasion to make a speech that went beyond the official theme of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, Rice said it would be “out of order and inappropriate.”
Arab officials seldom let a UN meeting on nuclear issues pass without raising Israel’s alleged possession of nuclear weapons. Israel has never confirmed possessing them but is widely assumed to be the Middle East’s only nuclear power.
Rice said most of the 15 countries on the Security Council has promised that their leaders would speak for no more than five minutes, “and we expect no less from President Gaddafi, should he come.”
Speakers often ignore time limits in both the Security Council and the General Assembly.
Rice also confirmed that Obama would speak at a climate change summit at the UN on September 22, his first UN appearance since taking office in January.

Pic: President Muammar Gaddafi of Libya