Tuesday, September 22, 2009

US calms row over bomber release

The release of Megrahi caused outrage among some Americans

The US government has said it does not want to punish Scotland for releasing the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing, Abdelbasset al-Megrahi.

The US state department told the BBC's Newsnight Scotland it was "looking to move on" from the row.

Megrahi, who is terminally ill, was released from a Scottish prison on compassionate grounds last month.

The release of the only man convicted of the 1988 airliner bombing, sparked outrage in the US.

Many of the 270 victims of the atrocity were from the US.

Before the release of Megrahi, US secretary of state Hillary Clinton said it would be "absolutely wrong" to allow Megrahi to return to Libya.

She phoned the Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill to tell him so.

The administration of US president Obama has now said there will be no "tit for tat" retaliation against Scotland.

State department spokesman Ian Kelly described America and Scotland as "very close allies".

He accepted Mr MacAskill's "right to do what he did" and promised continued co-operation with Scotland.

An aide to First Minister Alex Salmond said the statement was "very welcome" recognition of the strong relationship between the two countries.


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