Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat- Libya has condemned Washington’s diplomatic warnings to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi against the repercussions of aggravating US emotions regarding the Lockerbie bombings during his upcoming visit to the United Nations headquarters in New York later this month where he will deliver a speech as head of the African Union.
The official spokesman for the Libyan foreign office stated that it is wrong for Washington to try to dictate to Gaddafi what he should say at the event.
Gaddafi is scheduled to visit the UN General Assembly for the first time since coming to power in Libya. Earlier this month, Gaddafi celebrated the 40th anniversary of the coup against the Libyan monarch King Idris al Senussi in 1969, which brought him to power.
Gaddafi, who also plans to hold talks with US President Barack Obama, will deliver a speech to world leaders at the annual meeting on September 23 directly after President Obama.
The Libyan spokesman said in a statement that the foreign ministry issued on its website recently that ‘even if the United Nations [General Assembly] podium is on American soil, it is for all peoples and nobody can dictate to us what we should or should not say, especially when the leader (Colonel Gaddafi) is speaking on behalf of a free continent. It is indecent to obstruct the continent’s right to express itself.’
He added: ‘…We are surprised that there is concern about what Gaddafi might say. Maybe they want to depict him as a terrorist because he did not eulogize the White House and support a state [that works] outside [the framework] of the United Nations and does not respect laws and human rights [in reference to Israel]. It alone must correct that and this is what we hope for from the new Obama administration that promised us change, away from the old rhetoric that brought nothing to the world but destruction and nothing to the Americans but shame…then we will be good friends with the new America, the America of change and the America of Obama.’
The statement pointed out that Libya appreciates America’s official position and in fact ‘we sympathize with the American nation based on the fact they are victims of terrorism, and of the hatred of nations because of the policies they embroiled these nations in and then left them to deal with the repercussions.’
The Libyan Foreign Ministry Spokesman said, ‘Al Megrahi in our opinion and in the opinion of many states is a “political hostage” and this was corroborated by Arab League resolutions and by the neutral stances of Africa and the Islamic world in this regard.’ Meanwhile, in what seemed to be a response to US criticism of the way al Megrahi was received in Libya, the Libyan official added, ‘We were not receiving a criminal or a terrorist; we were receiving a victim and the documents, which are backed by many families of [Lockerbie] victims, will prove his innocence and they must refer back to these [Arab League] resolutions.’