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Arab League refuses Libyan request for countermeasures against U.S.

January 31, 1986

TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) _ The Arab League renewed its condemnation of American sanctions and military gestures against Libya on Thursday, but turned down Moammar Khadafy’s request for joint economic retaliation by Arab nations.

Khadafy’s government requested the special meeting in hopes of obtaining a counter boycott of the United States, including withdrawal of Arab funds from American banks and companies.

The league gave Libya its moral support at a meeting earlier this month, and there was little enthusiasm Thursday for anything more.

That attitude was evident even before the one-day session began. Although it was billed as a gathering of foreign ministers, only eight attended.

Other countries sent lower-level delegates or their permanent representatives at the Tunis headquarters of the league, which is made up of 20 countries and the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Notably absent were the foreign ministers of Persian Gulf countries, except for Saudi Arabia. The other seven attending were from Algeria, Djibouti, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Syria and Tunisia.

The meeting’s communique denounced ″American threats″ against Libya and the economic boycott, expressing ″total solidarity″ with the fellow Arab nation. It warned the United States about the ″dangers of an armed aggression″ against Libya asked that it cease all forms of provocation.

President Reagan ended U.S. economic dealings with Libya after terrorist attacks at the Rome and Vienna airports Dec. 27 in which 20 people were killed, and ordered all Americans to leave the North African country by Feb. 1.

The United States accused Khadafy of harboring Abu Nidal, the renegade Palestinian terrorist leader it blames for the airport massacres.

In its communique Thursday, the Arab League agreed to ″act in solidarity with Libya to prevent any sort of prejudice to the production and commercializat ion of Libyan oil,″ Khadafy’s main source of revenue, and promised help against any action that threatened Libyan oil interests.

It also agreed to begin consultations leading to a U.N. Security Council meeting on the question of American threats.

Libya’s foreign minister, Ali Abdussalam Treiki, came here armed with strong words but apparently with weaker hopes of concrete results.

In an interview with The Associated Press before the meeting began, he stressed that the delegates would ″study the American sanctions and the American provocation, and recently, the maneuvers″ of U.S. 6th Fleet warships off the Libyan coast.

″We will ask for certain measures and see what countries can do,″ he said.

Treiki repeated Khadafy’s denial of involvement with international terrorism and said Libya was ready ″to talk, without any pre-conditions,″ with the United States about easing tensions.

He also said in the interview that his government was willing to work with others to fight terrorism.

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