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Cabinet Completed; Foreign Minister Reputedly Has Western Ties

November 18, 1992

SIRTE, Libya (AP) _ Parliament on Wednesday completed naming a new 14-member Cabinet the includes a foreign minister believed to have good ties with the West.

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi still is considered the nation’s sole decision-maker, however.

Abdel-Hamid Ammar, one of several congress secretaries, said the shakeup had nothing to do with Libya’s confrontation with the West over demands that Tripoli surrender people suspected in the bombings of two airliners.

He said the changes were intended to streamline the governent. The number of Cabinet members was reduced from 22 to 14.

The new government includes seven newcomers and seven holdovers, including Prime Minister Abu-Zayd Omar Durda, the premier since October 1990.

The only major change is the appointment of Omar Mustafa al-Montassir as foreign minister. He was the economic planning minister and was prime minister before Durda.

Sources in the 3,000-member General People’s Congress, which named the Cabinet, said al-Montassir strongly favors good relations with the United States and other Western countries. The sources spoke on condition of anonytmity.

Members of the congress, who opened their session Saturday, harshly criticized the previous foreign minister, Ibrahim al-Bishari, for the way he handled foreign relations.

Libya’s most important foreign policy issue is its dispute with the United States, Britain and France over the indictment of six Libyans suspected in the bombing of two airliners that left 440 people dead.

The United Nations imposed sanctions in April to punish Libya for refusing to surrender two Libyans wanted in the bombing of a Pan Am jet over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988, that killed 270 people.

Libya said the sanctions have cost it $2.4 billion.

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