Magazine article Newsweek

A Wet Kiss for Kaddafi

Magazine article Newsweek

A Wet Kiss for Kaddafi

Article excerpt

Byline: Michael Isikoff

The move to normalize relations between the U.S. and Libya accelerates next month when Muammar Kaddafi makes his first-ever trip to America to address the U.N. The arrival of Kaddafi is already creating problems for New York security officials: he travels with a massive, heated Bedouin tent. Libyan officials recently asked permission for Kaddafi to pitch it in Central Park. "The location for the tent is still an open question," says a senior State Department official who asked not to be identified talking about sensitive matters. (One alternative: coax Kaddafi, and his retinue of female bodyguards, to pitch the tent on Libyan-owned property in New Jersey.)

The prospect of the Libyan leader on U.S. soil is angering families of the victims of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing, which the U.S. long ago pinned on Kaddafi's government. "On the political world stage, he should be a laughingstock, except for the fact that he's got blood on his hands," says Frank Duggan, president of the Victims of Pan Am Flight 103. The families' anger was further inflamed by reports that Scottish officials are weighing the release of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the Libyan convicted of the bombing, on the grounds that he is dying of cancer.

The diplomatic thaw began in 2003, under President George W. Bush, after Kaddafi renounced his nuclear- and chemical-weapons programs. That led to a lifting of U.S. sanctions; the policy of forging closer ties is continuing under Obama. …

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