Boris Johnson meets Libyan PM but ‘snubs’ victims of IRA Semtex supplied by Gaddafi
Victims of Libya-IRA terrorism have accused Boris Johnson of snubbing their representatives less than 24 hours after he met with the interim prime minister of the African country and discussed oil interests.
Mr Johnson met with Libya’s interim prime minister Abdulhamid Dabaiba at Downing Street on Thursday.
In a statement, Mr Johnson said he welcomed Mr Dabaiba to reaffirm the UK’s support for his efforts to stabilise Libya and oversee the transition to democracy. They discussed the ongoing security concerns in Libya and elections.
But Mr Johnson also put the two countries’ mutual oil interest front and centre.
The Downing Street statement said: “The Prime Minister welcomed the upcoming opening of the Libyan National Oil Corporation’s European hub in London and they resolved to boost trade and investment between our two countries.”
Victims of Libya-IRA Semtex have long argued that an oil deal has stymied their efforts to secure compensation on a par with French, German and US victims of Libyan-sponsored terror attacks.
The News Letter asked Mr Johnson whether he had pressed Mr Dabaiba about the compensation and invited him to respond to concerns about raised by Innocent Victims United (IVU), which represents Semtex victims.
In response the prime minister’s office provided a stock line it has issued on previous occasions.
It said the UK has “profound sympathy” for victims, that the compensation is “the responsibility of the Libyan State”.
It added: “We continue to press the Libyan authorities to address the Libyan State’s historic responsibility for the Qadhafi regime’s support for the IRA.”
Former UUP leader Lord Empey said the “glaring omission” in the Downing Street statement was any mention of Mr Johnson seeking compensation.
“The Prime Minister has refused so far to meet the Parliamentary Support Group for the victims of Libyan terrorism so I hope he will now do so and tell us if the matter was raised with the Libyan on Thursday and what progress has been made.”
Kenny Donaldson of IVU said the perfunctory nature of the response from Mr Johnson to his detailed statement appeared to him as “a serious snub to British victims of international terrorism where Mr Johnson appears to be taking oil profits more seriously”.
Mr Donaldson also challenged the Prime Minister to prove him wrong, by “returning to the Boris of 2018 who committed to proactively resolve the issue when Foreign Office Minister”.
He added: “With his elevation to the office of Prime Minister his desire and will to resolve these issues should have increased - not dissipated”.
After further enquiries, Downing Street later confirmed Mr Johnson did raise compensation in the meeting.
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