Canada to rebuke Gaddafi during refueling stopover

Thu Sep 24, 2009 3:37pm EDT
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OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada will rebuke Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi during a brief stopover in the country, telling him Libya's warm welcome for the man convicted of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing was an insult to the victims.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper will dispatch his foreign minister, Lawrence Cannon, to deliver the official protest in St. John's, Newfoundland, his spokesman said on Thursday.

Gaddafi's plane is scheduled to refuel there during a one-day stopover before heading back to Libya from New York, where he attended the United Nations General Assembly.

"This is not an official visit to Canada," said Dimitri Soudas, Harper's spokesman.

"Minister Cannon will voice Canada's strong disapproval over the hero's welcome organized for Abdelbasset Al Maghrahi, the man responsible for the Lockerbie terrorist bombing."

Soudas said the episode was an "insult to all the victims who died, including Canadians."

Many countries have been upset by the public reception for the Libyan official who was released by Scotland last month on health grounds.

Gaddafi did not comment on the matter in his rambling 94-minute speech to the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday.

As he was speaking, the U.S. Senate approved a resolution condemning the lavish welcome home ceremony and demanded that Libya apologize.

(Reporting by Louise Egan)

<p>Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi gestures at the end of his address to the 64th United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. headquarters in New York, September 23, 2009. Gaddafi, in his first ever address to the United Nations, on Wednesday accused the veto-wielding powers of the Security Council of betraying the principles of the U.N. charter. REUTERS/Mike Segar</p>