US warns Libya against withdrawing permits of US oil companies

Sep 05, 2001 02:00 AM

The United States warned Libya against revoking permits of US oil companies banned from operating there, responding to a threat from Tripoli that firms risk losing their licenses if they do not return within the year. The State Department said making good on the threat would hurt chances for any rapprochement with the United States, the desire for which was most recently expressed by Libyan Foreign Minister Mohammed Abdel Rahman Shalgam.
"We expect that Libya will respect the equities of US companies in Libya," said department spokeswoman Eliza Koch. "Prejudicing the interests of US companies in Libya would make it more difficult to develop the kind of relationship with the United States that Foreign Minister Shalgam says he wants," she said.
On a visit to Italy, Shalgam was quoted as saying US oil firms, now banned by US law from doing business in Libya, could lose previously- awarded licenses if they did not resume operations within a year. "Libya wants American firms to resume their activities in Libya's oil fields but we are giving them one year to return. After that they will be forced to leave because of US economic sanctions against Libya," Shalgam was quoted as saying after meeting Italian Foreign Minister Renato Ruggiero.
Ruggiero was reported as saying Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi sought normal relations with the United States.
Koch noted that in August, US President George W. Bush had extended for five years 1996 sanctions curbing US and other foreign investment in the petroleum and gas industries of Libya and Iran. At the time, Bush said better US-Libyan relations could only be considered if Libya complied with various UN resolutions, Koch said.

Source: AFP
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