While Gaddafi talks, U.S. Senate rebukes Libya

Wed Sep 23, 2009 1:06pm EDT


By Susan Cornwell

WASHINGTON, Sept 23 (Reuters) - Even as Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi spoke on Wednesday at the United Nations in New York, his government was being rebuked on the floor of the U.S. Senate.

The Senate approved a resolution condemning the "lavish" welcome home ceremony Libya gave last month for the convicted Lockerbie bomber, Libyan agent Abdel Basset al-Megrahi -- and demanded that Libya apologize for the celebration.

But Gaddafi, at the U.N. General Assembly in New York, continued his rambling speech blasting the U.N. Security Council and calling for $7.77 trillion in compensation to Africa from its past colonial masters. [ID:nN2355117]

He was talking when Senator Charles Schumer rose in the Senate in Washington to take a few minutes to introduce the resolution, and he was still talking long after Schumer finished and the Senate passed the resolution on a voice vote.

The resolution also condemned the release of Megrahi from a prison in Scotland, a decision that angered Washington.

The terminally ill Libyan agent had been convicted in connection with the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am flight over Lockerbie, Scotland, that took 270 lives, including 189 Americans.

Schumer said Megrahi's release shocked many people on both sides of the Atlantic. But it was even worse, he said, that the man who was convicted of the "dastardly" Lockerbie bombing arrived home in Libya to a welcome by thousands of people in which banners were waved and flower petals were thrown.

"The hero's welcome Libya gave to this terrorist truly shocks the conscience and deserves a formal rebuke. It's outrageous the Libyan government would so blatantly disregard the suffering the families (of victims) have endured for more than two decades," Schumer said on the Senate floor.

The senator said he sympathized with the relatives of the victims, who would be reminded of the bombing when they saw Gaddafi "grandstanding" at the United Nations.

"It's just an awful situation," Schumer said. Meanwhile in New York, Gaddafi kept talking.

(Editing by Vicki Allen)




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