USA*Engage Urges Bush Administration to Lift Libya Travel Ban

Monday, 9 February 2004

"Lifting the travel ban to Libya is a key first step in normalizing U.S.-Libya relations," said Bill Reinsch, President of the National Foreign Trade Council and Co-Chairman of USA*Engage. "With Libya acting in good faith to remove its weapons of mass destruction, the U.S. should respond in turn to encourage further reform. After more than 15 years of isolation, Americans should be free to travel and engage the Libyan people. The openness that will occur after lifting the travel ban can ensure that productive talks continue between our two nations, and help keep Libya on the right track to responsible behavior and economic growth."

Libya's recent cooperation with the U.S. comes follows last year's agreement with the Pan Am flight 103 families, which acknowledged Libyan responsibility for the downing of the plane and established a framework for settlement with the victims' families. This month, officials from the U.S. and Britain met with Libyan officials to discuss further actions by Libya to ensure that their weapons program continues to be dismantled.

"Once the travel ban is lifted, U.S. officials can concentrate on removing our longstanding unilateral economic sanctions against Libya, the next step in stabilizing relations," Reinsch continued. "With the United Nations' sanctions already removed - as part of the Pan Am settlement - the U.S. should act promptly to remove these sanctions which now serve no purpose other than to multiply opportunities for foreign companies in Libya."

The U.S. has maintained prohibitions on American companies' ability to trade and invest in Libya since 1986, and the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act (ILSA) authorizes penalties on foreign companies that invest in Libya's oil and gas industry.

"U.S. national security is always our primary concern, but as Libya dismantles its weapons programs and makes the world a safer place, the United States should be taking carefully calibrated steps to help return Libya to the international fold. It is in our security interest, economic interest and foreign policy interest to do so," Reinsch concluded.

USA*ENGAGE is a coalition of over 670 small and large businesses, agriculture groups and trade associations working to seek alternatives to the proliferation of unilateral U.S. foreign policy sanctions and to promote the benefits of U.S. engagement abroad. For more information on USA*ENGAGE and the harmful effects of unilateral trade sanctions, visit the USA*ENGAGE web site at www.usaengage.org.