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 Home > News & Policies > April 2004

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
April 23, 2004

U.S. Eases Economic Embargo Against Libya
Statement by the Press Secretary

Since December 19, Libya has taken significant steps eliminating weapons of mass destruction programs and longer range missiles, and has reiterated its pledge to halt all support for terrorism. In the last two months, the Government of Libya has removed virtually all elements of its declared nuclear weapons program, signed the IAEA Additional Protocol, joined the Chemical Weapons Convention, destroyed all of its declared unfilled chemical munitions, secured its chemical agent pending destruction under international supervision, submitted a declaration of its chemical agents to the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons, eliminated its Scud-C missile force, and undertaken to modify its Scud-B missiles.

Officials from the United States, United Kingdom, OPCW, and IAEA, invited by the Libyan government to assist in and verify the elimination of its WMD programs, have received excellent cooperation and support.

Through its actions, Libya has set a standard that we hope other nations will emulate in rejecting weapons of mass destruction and in working constructively with international organizations to halt the proliferation of the world's most dangerous systems. Libyan actions since December 19 have made our country and the world safer.

The President made clear on December 19 that Libya's actions to voluntarily dismantle its WMD and longer range missile programs, as well as renounce terrorism, would open the path to better relations with the United States.

In recognition of the steps it has taken over the last two months to repudiate WMD and to build the foundation for Libya's economic growth and reintegration with the international community, the United States will take the following steps:

Today, the President has terminated the application of the Iran and Libya Sanctions Act with respect to Libya, and the Treasury Department has modified sanctions imposed on U.S. firms and individuals under the authority of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act to allow the resumption of most commercial activities, financial transactions, and investments. U.S. companies will be able to buy or invest in Libyan oil and products. U.S. commercial banks and other financial service providers will be able to participate in and support these transactions.

Controls on exports with respect to Libya will be maintained consistent with Libya's continued presence on the State Sponsors of Terrorism List. Restrictions will continue to apply to exports of dual-use items with military potential, including potential for WMD or missile applications. Exports to Libya of defense articles and services on the U.S. Munitions List remain prohibited. Direct air service between the U.S. and Libya and third country code-sharing are not yet authorized, nor is the release of frozen Libyan Government assets.

In conjunction with our enhanced economic relations, we will begin a dialogue on trade, investment, and economic reform, and will take steps to encourage Libya's reintegration with the global market. In particular, we will drop our objection to Libyan efforts to begin WTO accession process.

In recognition of our deepening dialogue and diplomatic engagement on a broader range of issues, the Department of State intends to establish a U.S. Liaison Office in Tripoli, pending Congressional notification. Our protecting power relationship with Belgium, whose support in Tripoli over the years has been greatly appreciated, would end. Direct diplomatic dealings with Libya will reflect the reality on the ground over the last several months of bilateral cooperation and dialogue.

The U.S. will continue to promote humanitarian and joint programs that advance people-to-people ties between America and Libya. As a result of the lifting of commercial restrictions on Libya, Libyan students will be eligible to study in the United States, subject to admission to an American educational institute and meeting the eligibility requirements for a student visa.

A U.S. education delegation will travel to Libya on April 23, to begin consultations on cooperation in the education sector and in educational exchanges.

The United States has underscored to Libya the importance of a complete renunciation of all ties to terrorism. The President's certification to Congress under ILSA that Libya has fulfilled the requirements of relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions relating to the bombing of Pan Am 103 does not prejudge the removal of Libya from the Terrorism List or detract from Libya's obligation to fulfill its continuing Pan Am 103 commitments. The necessity of ending any tie to terrorist groups or activities will continue to be a central issue in relations with Libya.

Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs William Burns will continue our political and economic dialogue with Libya on issues that include terrorism, human rights, political and economic modernization, and foreign policy in Africa.

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