Cameron Pledges Cooperation on Lockerbie Bomber Case

Washington, July 21 (DPA) British Prime Minister David Cameron pledged Tuesday to cooperate with US congressional hearings into the release of the Lockerbie bomber, but said he does not back a new inquiry by his government into whether BP Plc influenced the decision to free the Libyan man.

Speaking at a White House press conference with President Barack Obama, Cameron emphasised that the release nearly a year ago of Abdel Baset al-Megrahi was a "bad decision" by Scottish authorities.

"I don't need an inquiry to tell me it was a bad decision," Cameron said.

Instead, the British government will sift through all the documents related to the decision by the Scottish government, which had jurisdiction over the case, to determine if there is additional information that should be made public, he said.

The issue hung over Cameron's first visit to the White House since taking office earlier this year. Obama and Cameron also discussed the war in Afghanistan, the Middle East peace process, Iran's nuclear ambitions, the economy and the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that started three months ago following an explosion on a BP-leased rig.

Cameron sympathised with the anger in the US over the massive leak and was unified with the Obama administration's position that BP must shoulder the cost of the cleanup.

"On BP, which we discussed at some length, I completely understand the anger that exists right across America," Cameron said. "The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is a catastrophe for the environment, for the fishing industry, for tourism."

"It is BP's role to cap the leak, to clean up the mess and to pay appropriate compensation," he added. "I'm in regular touch with senior management at BP, and the president is too, to make sure that happens."

Obama, who also called al-Megrahi's release a "bad decision," did not repeat Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's direct call for a review, but said he would welcome additional information.

"We welcome any additional information that will give us insight and a better understanding of why the decision was made," he said.

Scottish authorities released al-Megrahi to Libya in August 2009 on humanitarian grounds because he was suffering from cancer, and at the time doctors believed he had only three months to live. He is still alive.

The issue resurfaced after recent reports suggested that energy giant BP pressured Scottish authorities to free him, hoping that doing so would help the firm gain access to lucrative oil fields in Libya.

The Senate plans to conduct hearings this week into whether Scotland was influenced by motivations beyond al-Megrahi's health.

The bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, killed 270 people, among them 189 Americans. Cameron called al-Megrahi the biggest "mass murderer" in British history.


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