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Gadhafi Meets Lockerbie Lawyer

September 23, 1998 GMT

LONDON (AP) _ The issues delaying the trial of two Libyan suspects in the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am jet could be resolved ``in a matter of weeks,″ two Britons said today after meeting with Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

Jim Swire, who speaks for some British families, and Robert Black, a law professor at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, said their talks Tuesday with Gadhafi in Tripoli were constructive and they will soon submit new proposals to U.N. officials to speed up the trial. They refused to give details.

``If we can reach agreement over certain technicalities which have been holding up the process, then the trial could be under way within weeks,″ Swire told The Associated Press. He spoke from the Tunis airport, where the men were waiting for a flight home.

The United States and Britain propose to try the suspects in the Netherlands by Scottish judges under Scottish law. Libya has accepted the proposal but continues to argue about specifics.

Swire said the Libyans offered no assurances that they will soon surrender the suspects. ``But we are definitely more confident now than when we left for Tripoli,″ he said.

Libya has agreed in principle to accept the U.S.-British compromise plan, but Gadhafi has demanded guarantees for the legal rights and safety of the men.

The U.S.-British proposal calls for the Libyan suspects, if convicted, to serve their prison time in Britain. Libya has said they should serve any sentence in Libya.

For their part, British families are concerned that officials and lawyers should have full, unfettered access to all relevant witnesses and evidence, wherever they are, said Swire, whose daughter Flora died in the attack over Lockerbie, Scotland, that killed 270 people.

The United Nations imposed sanctions in 1992 to try to force Gadhafi to hand over the suspects for trial. The sanctions ban air travel to and from Libya, freeze foreign assets and bar the sale of some oil equipment.

The U.N. Security Council has passed a resolution saying that the sanctions will be lifted when the suspects are turned over for trial in the Netherlands.