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Cablegate: Gol Proposes Global Settlement Talks On Terrorist-Related Legal Claims

VZCZCXRO6591
OO RUEHTRO
DE RUEHTRO #0226 0770847
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 170847Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3235
INFO RHEHAAA/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUEHTRO/AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI 3724

C O N F I D E N T I A L TRIPOLI 000226

SIPDIS SIPDIS

DEPT FOR NEA/FO (WELCH, GRAY) AND L (SCHWARTZ)

E.O. 12958: DECL: 3/17/2018

TAGS: PGOV PREL KLIG PTER LY

SUBJECT: GOL PROPOSES GLOBAL SETTLEMENT TALKS ON TERRORIST-RELATED LEGAL CLAIMS CLASSIFIED BY: Chris Stevens, CDA, Embassy Tripoli, Dept of State. REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)

1.(C) In a meeting on March 16, MFA U/S-equivalent for European Affairs Abdulati Obeidi passed CDA and P/E Chief a copy of a note proposing a meeting with USG officials "at the earliest possible date" to begin discussions regarding a comprehensive settlement of all legal claims pending in U.S. and Libyan courts. (Note: Post's translation is at para 4; original Arabic language text has been scanned and sent to NEA/MAG via email. End note.) Noting that the Libyan proposal stemmed from discussions in February in Europe between NEA A/S David Welch, Saif al-Islam al-Qadhafi and Obeidi, he said the GOL also transmitted the note and instructions to Libya's CDA in Washington, Ali Aujali, on March 15. It was expected that Aujali would convey the note to the Department on March 17. The offer by the GOL to negotiate a comprehensive settlement represented an important "political decision" by the GOL, he said.

2.(C) Obeidi suggested that initial discussions could focus on the three major outstanding claims cases in U.S. venues: Pan Am 103, LaBelle, and UTA. Emphasizing his desire to avoid "surprises", he said that the GOL team would also raise judgments in Libyan courts related to the 1986 Operation El Dorado Canyon bombing of Tripoli and Benghazi. Obeidi said the Libyan team would consist of himself, Deputy Foreign Minister-equivalent Dr. Muhammad Siala, attorney and head of the GOL's litigation committee Ahmed Mselati, attorney Azzam al-Dib, attorney Dr. Ali Dawi, attorney Azza al-Maghour, and Qadhafi Development Foundation official Munther Ramadan. (Note: DFM Siala's position was formally abolished, together with all deputy minister-equivalent positions, in the wake of Leader Muammar al-Qadhafi's March 2 speech to the General People's Congress; however, Siala remains in his office at the MFA. Obeidi said a "reorganization" would occur, but suggested Siala may remain at the MFA in some as-yet undetermined capacity. End note.) Obeidi said discussions to date on a comprehensive settlement had been at the political level; Obeidi suggested the time was now right for the two sides to include legal experts who could help formulate modalities of a possible settlement mechanism.

3.(C) Noting his understanding that positive movement on claims - particularly high-profile cases - could lend impetus to efforts to find a mechanism to mitigate the effects of section 1083 of the 2008 National Defense Authorization Act (the "Lautenberg Amendment"), Obeidi stressed that the GOL would like to meet with the U.S. team as quickly as possible. The GOL's preference is that the venue be either in Tripoli or in Europe (London, Rome and Geneva were suggested). Citing what he said was the decision of the U.S. judge in the Pan Am 103 case to suspend legal proceedings in the case while negotiations were underway, Obeidi said the GOL hoped proceedings could be similarly suspended in the LaBelle and UTA cases.

4.(C) Begin informal translation of note: A Proposal to the U.S. State Department Regarding Settlement of Pending Issues Between the Two Countries Recalling the cases filed against the Great Jamahiriya and a number of its nationals in U.S. courts and Amendment 1083 of the 2008 U.S. Defense Authorization bill, and recalling verdicts pronounced by Libyan courts for compensation of victims of the American raid on Libya in the year 1986 of the Christian calendar; and recalling the intensive contacts between the two sides at the political and legal levels regarding the desire to reach a comprehensive settlement of all pending issues. We wish to inform you of our agreement to reach a settlement that would include all pending isues and would put a definitive end to all judicial disputes and permit forward movement in the development of bilateral relations in all areas of cooperation serving the interests of the two countries: We therefore propose the following: - Within the framework of implementing the above-referenced settlement, a fund shall be established for the purpose of compensating victims of both countries, to be funded directly or indirectly in accordance with a mutually agreed mechanism that is to be specified in detail within the framework of the proposed settlement. - To suspend legal proceedings of cases currently before U.S. courts, to suspend implementation of verdicts issued in both countries and to commence negotiations regarding a comprehensive settlement. - To hold an official meeting between representatives of both countries at the earliest possible date to discuss a comprehensive settlement agreement. We propose that the venue for such a meeting be either Tripoli or any European country. Awaiting your reply, we offer assurances of our respect and highest consideration. Date: March 11, 2008. Signed: Abdulati Obeidi, Secretary for European Affairs, General People's Committee for Foreign Liaison and International Cooperation
STEVENS

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