France Close to Finalizing Deal With Libya on 1989 Airline Bombing

France is very close to finalizing an agreement with Libya (search) on increasing compensation for families of victims of a 1989 passenger jet bombing, which will clear the way for lifting of U.N. sanctions, France's U.N. ambassador said Tuesday.

But France still needs a little more time to wrap up the agreement, Ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sabliere said.

France, a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council (search) with veto power, has threatened to hold up a British proposal to lift U.N. sanctions against Libya unless compensation is settled.

Britain and the United States have said Libya has met all the requirements to lift sanctions imposed in 1992 to force Moammar Gadhafi (search)'s government to surrender two men wanted in the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am jet over Lockerbie, Scotland, that killed 270 people.

Libya agreed to a $2.7 billion compensation deal for the families and in an Aug. 15 letter to the council claimed responsibility for bombing the Pan Am jet, renounced terrorism, and pledged to cooperate in future investigations of the crash.

But France threatened to block a resolution sponsored by Britain lifting the sanctions against Libya until it got more money for families of 170 people were killed in the 1989 bombing of a French UTA jet over the Niger desert.

In a 1999 settlement with Libya, the families of the victims shared $33 million, with the relatives of each victim receiving about $194,000, far less than the $5 million to $10 million that the families of each Lockerbie victim will receive.