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Fact Sheet
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
September 2, 2008

Significant Events in U.S.-Libyan Relations

August 14, 2008 - The United States and Libya sign a comprehensive claims settlement agreement.

August 4, 2008 - The President signs into law the Libyan Claims Resolution Act, which had passed Congress on July 31. The Act provides for the restoration of Libya’s sovereign, diplomatic, and official immunities before U.S. courts if the Secretary of State certifies that the United States Government has received sufficient funds to resolve outstanding terrorism-related death and physical injury claims against Libya.

May 28, 2008 - The United States begins negotiations with Libya on a comprehensive claims settlement agreement to resolve outstanding claims of American and Libyan nationals against each country in their respective courts.

January 3, 2008 - The United States and Libya sign the Science and Technology Cooperation Agreement, the first bilateral agreement between the two countries since the downgrading of diplomatic relations.

January 3, 2008 - Foreign Minister Shalgam meets with Secretary Rice in Washington, the first official visit by a Libyan Foreign Minister since 1972.

January 1, 2008 - Libya takes its seat as a member of the Security Council.

October 16, 2007 - The General Assembly elects Libya to the Security Council. Libya last served on the Security Council in 1976-1977.

September 26, 2007 - Secretary Rice meets with Foreign Minister Shalgam on the margins of the UN General Assembly to discuss the resolution of outstanding issues and chart the path forward for future cooperation.

July 11, 2007 – President Bush nominates career diplomat Gene A. Cretz as U.S. Ambassador to Libya.

July 9, 2007 - Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Francis Fragos Townsend visits Libya to discuss counterterrorism cooperation with Libyan Leader Muammar Qadhafi and other senior Libyan officials.

April 17-18, 2007 - Deputy Secretary Negroponte is the highest-ranking USG official to visit Libya. During his visit he meets with Foreign Minister Shalgam and other senior Libyan officials and discusses Darfur and other regional issues.

June 30, 2006 - The U.S. formally rescinds Libya’s designation as a state sponsor of terrorism.

May 15, 2006 - The U.S. begins the process of rescinding Libya’s designation as a state sponsor of terrorism, announces its intention to upgrade the U.S. diplomatic presence in Tripoli to an embassy, and certifies Libya is cooperating fully with USG anti-terrorism efforts.

February 28, 2006 - President Bush waives prohibitions on Export-Import Bank activity in Libya.

September 28, 2005 - President Bush signs two Presidential Determinations allowing refurbishment and sale of Libyan C-130s held in the U.S. and assistance by U.S. firms to Libyan efforts to destroy chemical weapon stockpiles.

September 17, 2005 - In a joint statement with Secretary Rice on the margins of the UN General Assembly, Libyan Foreign Minister Shalgam reiterates Libya’s commitment to condemn terrorism.

September 19, 2004 - The President terminates the national emergency for Libya and the remaining requirements for OFAC licenses (resulting in release of Libya's blocked assets and authorization for aviation activities), and adopts a general policy of making U.S. Government assistance programs available to U.S. persons doing business in Libya; Pan Am 103 families receive more than another $1 billion from an escrow account.

September 17, 2004 – A major milestone occurs in the elimination of Libya’s WMD and MTCR-class programs with all declared items either destroyed/removed or slated for destruction pursuant to trilateral arrangements or international regimes.

July 8, 2004 -Libya re-establishes its diplomatic presence in Washington with the opening of a Liaison Office.

June 28, 2004 - The U.S. Liaison Office (USLO) in Tripoli officially opens. The U.S. begins a number of academic and professional exchange programs with Libya, including the Fulbright Program and the International Visitor Leadership Program.

April 22/23, 2004 - In response to further Libyan cooperation on the WMD track, the U.S. announces further steps:
o A general license to permit the resumption of most commercial activity and financial transactions with Libya; export controls to Libya are maintained consistent with Libya’s continued presence on the State Sponsors of Terrorism List.
o Termination of the applicability of the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act (ILSA) to Libya,
o Intent to terminate the Protecting Power arrangements with Belgium and transition to a U.S. Liaison Office, and
o Dropping of U.S. objection to Libyan membership in the WTO.

February 26, 2004 - In response to Libyan cooperation on the WMD track, including removal of nuclear weapon design documents, centrifuge components, and containers of uranium hexafluoride as well as SCUD C missile guidance sets, the U.S. announces:
o Revocation of the passport restriction on U.S. travel to Libya,
o An invitation to Libya to open an Interest Section in Washington,
o Medical and education exchange delegations are authorized, and
o General licenses permitting American citizens to incur travel-related expenses, and U.S. companies with holdings in Libya to begin negotiating for re-entry.

February 8, 2004 - Resumption of a direct diplomatic presence occurs with the arrival of U.S. personnel at the U.S. Interests Section in Tripoli.

February 5, 2004 - Libya accedes to the Chemical Weapons Convention.

December 19, 2003 - Libya announces its intention to dismantle its WMD and MTCR-class missile programs and cooperates with the U.S. and UK as well as international arms control bodies to implement its decision.

September 12, 2003 - The UN Security Council adopts Resolution 1506 lifting sanctions on Libya. Pan Am 103 families receive over $1 billion from the escrow account.

August 15, 2003 - Libya accepts responsibility for the actions of its officials in the Pan Am 103 bombing, announces it will establish an escrow account to fund an out-of-court settlement with the Pan Am 103 families, pledges to cooperate in the investigation, and renounces terrorism to the UN Security Council.

October 4, 2001 - U.S. and UK begin meetings with Libyan officials to secure Libyan compliance with requirements of the UN Security Council resolutions regarding Libya's support for international terrorism, including the Pan Am 103 bombing in 1988.

January 30, 2001 - Scottish judges reach a verdict in the Pan Am 103 bombing case. Abdel-Basset al-Meghrahi is convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. Al-Amin Khalifa Fhimah is found not guilty.

April 5, 1999 - The Lockerbie suspects are transferred to The Netherlands for trial. The Dutch Government authorizes a UK prosecution at the Camp Zeist facility under Scottish law.

March 23, 1999 - Col. Qadhafi announces that the Lockerbie suspects will be transferred to the Netherlands for trial.

August 27, 1998 - The UN Security Council unanimously approves Resolution 1192 to facilitate a Scottish trial of the two Libyan suspects in The Netherlands and provide for suspension of sanctions against Libya if the suspects are transferred.

August 5, 1996 - President Bill Clinton signs into law the Iran and Libya Sanctions Act, which is aimed at foreign companies investing over $40 million a year in Libya’s petroleum industry or violating UN sanctions against Libya.

November 11, 1993 - The UN Security Council approves Resolution 883, which freezes Libya’s foreign assets, bans sales of equipment for its petroleum industry, and extends restrictions on its aviation industry.

June 23, 1992 - Libya’s General People’s Council agrees that the Lockerbie suspects could be tried abroad in a “fair and just” court.

May 14, 1992 - The Libyan Government announces that it will end its connections with terrorist groups, invite UN representatives to verify that it had done so, and will no longer allow its territory or citizens to be used for “terrorist acts.”

March 31, 1992 - The UN Security Council makes Resolution 731 mandatory and imposes an aviation and arms embargo on Libya.

January 21, 1992 -The UN Security Council unanimously adopts Resolution 731, demanding that Libya transfer the suspects in the Lockerbie bombing to the United States or Great Britain for trial or face sanctions. It also demands that Libya cooperate with a French inquiry into the 1989 UTA bombing.

November 13, 1991 - Libyan intelligence agents Abdelbaset Ali Mohammed al-Megrahi and Al-Amin Khalifa Fhimah are indicted for the Pan Am 103 bombing.

September 19, 1989 - Union des Transports Aériens (UTA) flight 772 crashes over Niger after a bomb exploded in its hull, killing 169 passengers and crew, 7 of whom were American citizens.

January 18, 1989 - The State Department issues a report stating that Libya had used “surrogate terrorist groups” to attack Western interests.

January 4, 1989 - Two Libyan MiG-23 fighters attack two U.S. Navy F-14s from the U.S.S. John F. Kennedy over the Mediterranean. Both Libyan fighters are shot down.

December 21, 1988 - Pan Am Flight 103 crashes over Lockerbie, Scotland after a mid-air bomb explosion, killing all 269 passengers and crew and 11 civilians on the ground.

September 14, 1988 - The State Department announces that Libya is “on the verge of full-scale production” of chemical weapons in a factory at Rabta.

April 15, 1986 - In Operation El Dorado Canyon, Air Force FB-111s based in England and Navy A-6 and A-7 bombers from the U.S.S. America and the U.S.S. Coral Sea attack military and terrorist-related targets in Tripoli and Benghazi.

April 5, 1986 - A bomb explodes in the LaBelle discotheque in West Berlin, killing 3 persons and wounding 230. Two of the dead and numerous wounded are U.S. military personnel.

March 24, 1986 - A Libyan base at Sirte fires six surface-to-air missiles at U.S. Navy aircraft conducting a freedom of navigation exercise in the Gulf of Sidra. In reply, U.S. Navy aircraft sink two Libyan patrol craft and attack the missile base in Sirte with radiation-seeking missiles.

January 7, 1986 - Following attacks on the Rome and Vienna airports by Abu Nidal terrorists on December 17, 1985, which were allegedly supported and praised by Libya, President Reagan imposes economic sanctions on Libya.

June 5, 1985 - The United States expels Farhat Tibar, an attaché with Libya’s Mission to the UN, for involvement in attacks on Libyan exiles in the United States.

August 31, 1984 - The United States forbids members of Libya’s mission to the UN from traveling outside New York City without special permission.

March 10, 1982 - The United States announces a ban on imports of Libyan oil.

January 19, 1982 - Libya accedes to the Biological Weapons Convention.

December 10, 1981 - Deputy Secretary of State William P. Clark calls on all Americans in Libya to leave the country. U.S. passports are no longer valid for travel to Libya.

August 19, 1981 - Two Libyan Su-22 fighters attack two Navy F-14 fighters from the U.S.S. Nimitz over the Gulf of Sidra. Both Libyan aircraft are shot down. The incident takes place 60 nautical miles from the Libyan coast during a scheduled U.S. naval exercise.

May 6, 1981 - Citing Libyan support for international terrorism and “disregard for the norms of international behavior,” the United States orders Libya to close its People’s Bureau in Washington within 5 working days. Belgium becomes the protecting power for U.S. interests in Libya.

March 4, 1981 - Col. Qadhafi warns of “war in the full sense of the word” if the United States again enters the Gulf of Sidra. On March 16, Navy Secretary John Lehman announces that the Sixth Fleet will hold exercises there within the next six months.

May 2, 1980 - Following a campaign by the Libyan Government to assassinate dissidents overseas, the United States declares four Libyan diplomats persona non grata and recalls its last two diplomats from Libya.

December 22, 1979 - U.S. designates Libya a state sponsor of terrorism.

December 2, 1979 - A mob demonstrating Libyan solidarity with the Iranian Revolution attacks and burns the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli.

October 19, 1973 - President Richard M. Nixon announces a $2.2 billion military aid program for Israel during the Yom Kippur War. Libya responds by embargoing all oil exports to the United States. Saudi Arabia and other Arab oil producing states follow the next day. The embargo will remain in effect until March 18, 1974.

October 11, 1973 - Libya claims control of the Gulf of Sidra south of 32 degrees, 30 minutes north latitude. The United States announces on February 14, 1974 that it does not recognize Libya’s claim.

May 30, 1973 - After the United States refuses to recognize Libya’s proclamation of a special oceanic zone within 100 nautical miles of Tripoli, Libya sends a letter to the UN Security Council that calls the activities of the 6th Fleet part of an aggressive plot. The State Department denies the Libyan claim the next day.

February 22, 1973 - A mob burns a U.S. flag and breaks the windows of the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli to protest the downing of a Libyan airliner by Israeli fighters over the Sinai Peninsula.

November 7, 1972 - United States withdraws its last U.S. Ambassador to Libya.

October 13, 1971 - Abdalla Suwesi, Libya’s last Ambassador to the United States, presents his credentials. He serves until March 19, 1973.

June 11, 1970 - The United States Air Force evacuates Wheelus Air Base.

November 19, 1969 - Revolutionary Command Council Chairman Lt. Col. Muammar Qadhafi demands the evacuation of Wheelus Air Base.

September 1, 1969 -Libyan army officers calling themselves the Revolutionary Command Council overthrew King Idris and proclaimed a Libyan Arab Republic.

July 8, 1969 - Joseph Palmer II of Maryland is appointed Ambassador to Libya. He presents his credentials on October 9.

June 6-10, 1967 - During the Six-Day War, Libya suspends oil exports to the United States, Great Britain, and West Germany. Riots at the offices of foreign oil companies oblige the U.S. Air Force to evacuate 7,095 U.S. and third-country citizens from Wheelus Air Base to Europe.

April 29, 1964 - The Libyan Government begins discussions on the future of U.S. and British military bases in the country. The United States agrees in principle to withdraw from Wheelus Air Base at an unspecified date.

October 15-24, 1962 - Libyan Crown Prince Hasan al-Rida al-Sanusi makes an official visit to the United States and meets with President John F. Kennedy on October 16.

April 9, 1959 - Standard Oil of New Jersey discovers oil at Zelten. By 1961, ten Libyan oil fields are producing. By 1965, Libya is the sixth-largest oil exporting country.

March 1957 – Vice President Richard M. Nixon visits Libya to promote the recently declared “Eisenhower Doctrine”, an economic and military aid program intended to counter communist influence in the Middle East.

July 28, 1955 - The United States and Libya sign agreements for cooperative programs in agriculture, education, natural resources, and public health.

May 6, 1955 - Saddiqh Montasser, Libya’s first Ambassador to the United States, presents his credentials.

September 25, 1954 - The Legation in Tripoli is raised to Embassy status. John L. Tappin of Maryland is appointed as the first U.S. Ambassador to Libya on the same day.

September 9, 1954 - The United States signs a new agreement providing for the long-term operation of Wheelus Air Base, which enters into force on October 30, following its ratification by Libya.

July 13-17, 1954 - Libyan Prime Minister Mustafa Ben Halim makes an unofficial visit to Washington to conduct negotiations involving U.S. military bases in Libya.

June 22, 1954 - Libya’s first diplomatic representative to the United States, Minister Mansour Fathi El-Kekhia, presents his credentials.

May 28, 1953 - Secretary of State John Foster Dulles visits Libya and meets with Prime Minister Mahmoud Muntasser and senior Libyan officials.

December 24, 1952 - Libya declares its independence and is recognized by the United States. The Consulate General in Tripoli becomes a Legation.

December 21, 1951 - The United States signs an agreement with Libya that permits continued use of Wheelus Airfield.

December 3, 1950 - The Libyan National Assembly proclaims Mohammed Idris el-Senussi as King Idris I.

August 3, 1950 - The United States establishes a Consulate in the eastern city of Benghazi.

April 3, 1950 - Lewis Clark is appointed as the U.S. representative on the UN Council on Libya.

December 10, 1949 - The General Assembly establishes a Council composed of representatives of Egypt, France, Italy, Pakistan, the United Kingdom, and the United States, each of the three regions of Libya, and of Libyan minorities, to assist in drafting a constitution for the country.

November 21, 1949 - The UN General Assembly votes to grant independence to Libya.

June 1, 1949 - Andrew G. Lynch is appointed Consul General.

June 6, 1948 - The U.S. Consulate in Tripoli is reopened.

April 2, 1948 - The air base is renamed as Wheelus Airfield.

June 30, 1947 - The U.S. Air Force establishes an air base at Tripoli.

February 10, 1947 - Under the Treaty of Paris, Italy renounces its possessions in Africa. Tripolitania and Cyrenaica remain under British military administration and Fezzan remains under French military administration pending the establishment of a trusteeship.

February 18, 1943 - U.S. Army Air Force personnel arrive in Benghazi. By March 13, they establish air bases at Benina, Lete, Solluch, and Berka. IX Bomber Command flies its first combat mission from Libyan bases against Naples on February 24. The bases close at the end of World War II.

1939 - Italy annexes Libya.

1934 - Italy officially names the provinces of Tripolitania, Cyrenaica, and Fezzan as Libya.

August 15, 1916 - The U.S. Consulate in Tripoli is closed.

October 18, 1912 - The Treaty of Lausanne ends the Italian-Turkish War. The Ottoman Empire relinquishes the provinces of Tripolitania and Cyrenaica to Italy.

September 29, 1911 - Italy declares war on the Ottoman Empire, claiming that it had obstructed Italian economic interests in Tripoli. Italian troops occupy the city of Tripoli on October 5, and proclaim the annexation of the region on November 5.

May 28, 1835 - The Turkish Government deposes Ali Karamanli, ending a dynasty that had ruled Tripoli almost without interruption since 1711. Tripolitania becomes a province of the Ottoman Empire.

August 12, 1832 - Pasha Yusef Karamanli abdicates in favor of his son Ali.

June 4, 1805 - The United States and Tripoli sign a Treaty of Peace and Amity, which ends the First Barbary War.

April 28, 1805 - A multi-national army led by the United States and Pasha Karamanli’s disaffected brother, Hamet, capture the town of Derna along Libya’s eastern coast.

August-September 1804 - The U.S. Navy conducts a series of bombardments of Tripoli.

March 26, 1804 - Congress authorizes a customs surcharge known as the “Mediterranean Fund” to finance military operations against Tripoli and negotiations with the Barbary States.

February 6, 1802 - “An Act for the Protection of the Commerce and Seamen of the United States against the Tripolitan Cruisers” becomes law.

December 8, 1801 - Congress passes “An Act for the Protection of the Commerce and Seamen of the United States against the Tripolitan Cruisers” to authorize use of naval forces to protect American commerce.

May 14, 1801 - The First Barbary War begins when Pasha Yusef Karamanli declares war on the United States after the U.S. Consul rejected offers to renegotiate tributes that would protect American commercial shipping in the Mediterranean.

July 10, 1797 - James Leander Cathcart was appointed as the first U.S. Consul to Tripoli.

November 4, 1796 - The United States signed a Treaty of Peace and Friendship with Tripoli. The Treaty was approved by the Senate on June 7, 1797 and entered into force on June 10.


Released on September 2, 2008

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