Non-Aligned summit calls for Lockerbie talks

 

DURBAN, South Africa, Sept 3 (Reuters) - The 113-nation Non-Aligned Movement on Thursday urged the United States and Britain to reverse their rejection of talks with Libya and negotiate details of the trial of two suspects in the 1988 Lockerbie airlinr bombing.

``The heads of state or government reaffirmed their continuous support for the stand by the Libyan Arab Jamahirya to secure a fair and just trial for the two suspects,'' the NAM leaders said in a final document due for release at the summit's close.

``They called upon the United Kingdom, the United States of America and the Netherlands to engage in discussions with the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya or through the Secretary General of the United Nations with the objective of implementing the initiative...icluding trial arrangements and the appropriate safety measures for the two suspects,'' the NAM leaders said in their 127-page final document.

Under an American-British proposal unveiled on August 24, the suspects in the bombing of a Pan Am airliner over Lockerbie, Scotland, which killed 270 people, would be tried in the Netherlands by Scottish judges.

The United States and Britain had previously insisted that the suspects, Abdel Basset Ali Mohamed al-Megrahi and Lamen Khalifa Fhimah, be tried either in Scotland or the United States.

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi said he has ``no objection'' to a trial in a third country, but rejected a U.S. and British call to hand over the two suspects immediately.

The United States has insisted the agreement on a trial in the Netherlands is a final concession not subject to further negotiation or refinement.

The NAM leaders decided to back the Libyan delegation's call for flexibility on issues complicating implementation of the agreement, such as arrangements for the imprisonment of the suspects during their trial and if they should be convicted.

They criticised Britain and the United States for the amount of time taken to accede to the Libyan offer of a third-country trial venue.

In his opening address to the summit, South African President Nelson Mandela said the Libyan issue had dragged on for too long and said he hoped ``all those directly concerned will cooperate with one another to remove this point of tension.''

Libya has been under U.N. Security Council sanctions since 1992 for failing to hand over the two for trial in the United States or Britain.

The U.N. Security Council last week backed the U.S.-British plan and called for the sanctions to be suspended as soon as the two suspects arrive in the Netherlands.