U.S. delays lifting Libya travel ban after premier’s remarks

The United States put off lifting a ban on travel to Libya after Prime Minister Shokri Ghanem reportedly said Tripoli is going to compensate for the 1988 bombing of a U.S. passenger jet ”to buy peace” with other countries.

The U.S. bitterly criticized Ghanem for making the remarks that contradict Libya’s earlier admission of wrongdoing in the case. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said, ”We would expect a retraction from the Libyan government.”

”It’s the responsibility of the Libyan government to retract the statements that contradict what they have officially and authoritatively told the United Nations in writing, and on which basis the United Nations Security Council acted,” Boucher told reporters.

In a BBC radio interview broadcast Tuesday, Ghanem said, ”We thought that it was easier for us to buy peace and this is why we agreed on compensation.”

Libya agreed to accept formal responsibility for its role in the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland, which claimed the lives of 277 people, including many Americans, and agreed to pay $2.7 billion in compensation in a letter to the U.N. Security Council last August. The U.N. Security Council voted a month later to lift sanctions on Libya.

The U.S. was preparing to lift the decades-old ban on the use of U.S. passports for travel to Libya but canceled the announcement .