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Senators may block Libya envoy

Some U.S. senators are balking at sending an ambassador to Libya until it pays compensation to the families of terror victims. President Bush has nominated the grandchild of a Holocaust survivor to be the first U.S. envoy to Tripoli since the United States and Libya severed ties in 1980.Bush this week tapped Gene Cretz, the deputy chief of mission at the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv.The United States and Libya re-established ties at a low level in 2004 after Libya
agreed to end its weapons of mass destruction program and pay
compensation to the families of the 270 victims of the 1988 bombing of
Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. The four senators from New York and New Jersey – home states to many of
the victims – said they would block the nomination until Libya had paid
the $2.7 billion compensation stipulated in a 2006 agreement with the
families.

“A promise made must be a promise kept,” said U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez
(D-N.J.). “Libya has not made good on its promise to the victims of Pan
Am Flight 103, and it must be held responsible.” Menendez and
the other three senators – Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey and Hillary
Rodham Clinton and Charles Schumer of New York – are Democrats, and
Lautenberg and Schumer are Jewish. Cretz’s appointment also
comes as Libya has reaffirmed death sentences for six foreign nurses –
one Palestinian and five Bulgarians – accused of poisoning children
with the HIV virus as part of an Israeli plot.Cretz, who has served posts in Syria and Egypt, has often been the top U.S. representative in Israel at Jewish memorial services, offering prayers in Hebrew. He spoke at the September 2005 funeral for Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal.

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