The talks centred on the Libyan government’s willingness to admit responsibility for the 1988 Lockerbie bombing, for which Abdelbaset ali Mohmed Al-Megrahi has been convicted. This is one of the four key conditions set by the US State Department for the full lifting of sanctions. The other conditions are the renunciation of terrorism, the payment of compensation to the families of the victims and the full sharing of information on the involvement of Libyan agents in terrorist activities.

If the expected statement admitting responsibility is made to the UN, the way will be paved for the payment of $2,700 million of compensation – $10 million to the families of each of the 270 people killed.

The State Department has signalled that the other two conditions for the dismantling of sanctions – both direct and through the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act – have already been met. In its most recent annual report it noted that ‘Libya appears to have curtailed its support for international terrorism’.

The lifting of sanctions will open the door to the development of Libya’s extensive hydrocarbon resources.