TORONTO – Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi has canceled a planned visit to Canada next week.
A Canadian government official said Saturday Qaddafi won't be landing in Newfoundland early next week to refuel his plane and stay for a night. The official said hotel reservations have been canceled and Libya's advance team has left.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because to avoid speaking for another country's head of state.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper had planned on sending Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon to meet with Qaddafi to express Canada's displeasure over the hero's welcome Libya gave to the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing. All 259 people aboard Pan Am Flight 103 and 11 people on the ground died when a bomb blew up the plane over Scotland in 1988.
Qaddafi arranged a welcome for the cancer-stricken Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, who was released from a Scottish prison last month on compassionate grounds.
Harper's office said the welcoming constituted an insult to all the victims who died in that appalling act of terrorism — including Canadians.
Qaddafi is attending a weekend Africa-South America summit in Venezuela. He was scheduled to stop in St. John's, Newfoundland after that meeting. It was not an official visit to Canada.
The mayor of St. John's, Newfoundland had said Qaddafi had wanted to pitch his Bedouin-style tent during his visit.
The Libyan leader had a difficult time finding a place to spend time while in the New York area this past week for the United Nations General Assembly meeting. Requests for space in Central Park, Englewood, New Jersey, and Manhattan's Upper East Side were all rejected. Qaddafi stayed at the city's Libyan Mission after arriving Tuesday.
When his tent was spotted Tuesday in the terraced courtyard of a stone manor house on property owned by Donald Trump, it didn't go over well. Trump hinted he'd been tricked into renting his land, politicians declared Qaddafi unwelcome and Bedford issued a stop-work order, saying the tent violated various zoning and housing codes.
The Libyan leader has been trying to restore his country's standing in the world and transform it from a pariah state to an accepted member of the international community.
Qaddafi surprised the international community by agreeing to dismantle his country's weapons of mass destruction programs.
On Saturday, a woman whose brother died in the flight over Lockerbie said she and another victim's relative met in New York City with Qaddafi.