Libya, France Sign New Deal Over UTA Bombing

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Relatives of the 170 victims of a 1989 French airliner bombing (search) said Thursday they had signed another compensation deal with Libya (search), preparing the way for a U.N. (search) resolution lifting sanctions against the North African country.

The deal, announced in Paris, follows up the $33 million Libya paid in a 1999 agreement. The French demanded more compensation after Libya paid $2.7 billion for the 1988 downing of a Pan Am jet over Lockerbie, Scotland, that killed 270 people.

The deal was signed Wednesday night in Tripoli, Libya.

The package was expected to be approved Thursday. A Libyan official from the Gadhafi International Association for Charitable Organizations, a charity headed by a son of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi (search), said the compensation package would be signed.

The agreement would create a foundation to pay families of the victims. The amount of the compensation was not announced.

The signing of a deal would meet a condition set by France for its support of a British-backed Security Council resolution completely lifting U.N. sanctions against Libya. The penalties have been suspended since 1999.

"France does not oppose that the Security Council votes for the lifting of sanctions as quickly as possible," said French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin (search). "We hope that a new page will therefore be turned in ties between France and Libya."

France, which has veto power as a permanent member of the Security Council, threatened to block the proposal without an agreement on the UTA bombing. The United Nations this week delayed a vote on the measure until Friday.

It was not immediately clear whether further negotiations would be needed between the two parties to fix the amount of the compensation.

Francis Szpiner, a lawyer for SOS Attentats, one of the groups supporting the victims, suggested that more work was needed to clinch a definitive deal.

"Today we can foresee a solution that will allow families of victims to end their grieving," he said.