US senators ask Britain's Cameron for Lockerbie meeting

19th July 2010, Comments 0 comments

British Prime Minister David Cameron will not meet during his visit to Washington with four US senators angry over the Lockerbie bomber's release last year, Britain's embassy said Monday.

But Cameron, set to make his first visit to the US capital since taking office in May, has a full schedule but will ask British Ambassador Nigel Sheinwald to meet with the lawmakers, said embassy press secretary Martin Longden.

"The prime minister is very conscious about the concern around this issue and he's been very clear on his own view. We have a full program of calls and so are unable to make additional calls at this late date," said Longden.

Democratic Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez of New Jersey wrote a letter to Cameron Monday asking to meet with him to discuss the Lockerbie case.

The lawmakers said they hoped to discuss "what we can all do to provide greater transparency into the circumstances surrounding the release, address the injustice, and ensure that a similar mistake is not repeated."

Cameron, who is set to hold White House talks Tuesday, is scheduled to meet with the US Senate's Democratic and Republican leaders and expects to discuss the issue with them, and "is also going to ask the ambassador to meet with the senators," said Longden.

The quartet said US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had advised them that she had requested Cameron's government "review the facts and circumstances" leading up to the release of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmet al-Megrahi.

Megrahi, the only person convicted of the 1988 bombing of a US Pan Am jumbo jet over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in which 270 people were killed, was freed from a Scottish jail last year.

Megrahi, who had been sentenced to life imprisonment, was freed in August on compassionate grounds after doctors said he had only three months left to live. But reports have since emerged that he could live another 10 years.

Britain has called the release a "mistake," but said there was no evidence to back up media reports linking Megrahi's release to BP's efforts to safeguard a lucrative oil exploration deal with Libya.

© 2010 AFP

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