WASHINGTON (AFP) — The United States is not campaigning against Libya's bid to join the UN Security Council, the State Department said Monday, in what is seen as another move to end the oil-rich north African state's diplomatic isolation.
Libya is eyeing a rotating seat as a non-permanent member of the council for a two-year term that needs the endorsement of the UN General Assembly.
"Libya's running as the unopposed candidate of the Africa group. We have not actively campaigned against them," Tom Casey, a State Department spokesman, told reporters.
"But in terms of how we vote, we generally don't disclose that and don't think we need to right now either," he said.
The Bush administration decision not to stand in the way of Libya's bid to join the council paves the way for Tripoli's full diplomatic rehabilitation at the UN, senior US officials were quoted saying in the Washington Post Sunday.
For a government that was long considered an international pariah, sanctioned by the UN Security Council for its refusal to surrender Libyan suspects in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, the new policy underscores a remarkable transition, the newspaper said.
But the decision, it said, had infuriated Libyan democracy advocates and some relatives of victims of the Pan Am disaster, which killed all 259 people on board and 11 people on the ground in Lockerbie, Scotland.
A Scottish court imprisoned a former Libyan intelligence officer for his role in the bombing, but a judicial review board concluded in June that he might have been wrongly convicted and ruled that his case should be appealed.
The United States had waged a 15-year diplomatic campaign to bar Libya from serving on the UN Security Council.
"We have not launched any campaign to oppose Libya, but we have not decided whether or not we will support them," a senior US official told the Post.
In May 2006, Washington renewed diplomatic ties with Libya, ending a 25-year-old diplomatic battle with Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi and taking the country off the US list of nations accused of supporting terrorism.
The move followed Kadhafi's announcement he was renouncing a weapons of mass destruction program.
Libya said last month it expected to receive US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice soon following talks with a US envoy who is preparing for the first such visit in more than 50 years.
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