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Lautenberg places hold on Libya envoy

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U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) is holding up confirmation of a U.S. envoy to Libya until the country pays compensation to terrorism victims.

Libya and the United States signed a comprehensive agreement in August as a precondition for a full restoration of diplomatic relations.

Lautenberg is exercising his prerogative as a senator to put a hold on a vote confirming President Bush’s nominee for ambassador to Tripoli, Gene Cretz, until Libya delivers on its promised compensation to families of victims of the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 and the 1986 bombing of a West Berlin discotheque.

“Libya has not yet satisfied its obligations to U.S. victims of its terrorist acts and I will object to this nomination’s moving forward until those victims receive justice,” he said in a statement Wednesday.

In the 1990s, Lautenberg, who is Jewish, authored the legislation allowing victims of state-sponsored terrorism to sue the sponsoring nations. Victims of Palestinian terrorism have used the law to sue the Palestinian Authority.

Reuters estimates that Libya owes victims $1.8 billion.

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