Khadafy to make first visit to United Nations

Associated Press / June 13, 2009
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UNITED NATIONS - Libyan leader Moammar Khadafy will pay his first visit to the United Nations this fall, the next president of the UN General Assembly said yesterday.

Libyan politician Ali Abdessalam Treki said at his first press appearance since becoming president-elect of the assembly Wednesday that Khadafy's visit is planned for the assembly's annual high-level gathering of world leaders in September.

Khadafy, who has ruled Libya since seizing power in a coup in 1969, has been trying to replace his terrorist image and past with that of a revolutionary and world leader. Earlier this year, he was elected to a one-year post as African Union chairman.

In the 1990s, the United States lifted sanctions against Libya when Khadafy handed over two suspects in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, which exploded over Lockerbie Scotland, killing all 259 people on board and 11 on the ground. Khadafy also agreed to pay billions of dollars in compensation and renounce his weapons of mass destruction program.

Libya already has a nonpermanent seat on the 15-nation Security Council, where the real power at the United Nations is concentrated and held particularly among the five permanent and veto-wielding members: the United States, China, Russia, Britain, and France.

In Italy yesterday, Khadafy gave Italians a contradictory take on women's rights, criticizing Islam's treatment of women but later suggesting it should be up to male relatives to decide if a woman can drive a car.

The Libyan strongman drew cheers and jeers from hundreds of prominent Italian women at a Rome auditorium.

At times he appeared to strike out for women's rights, but also backed some of Islam's strictest tenets and criticized women's emancipation in the West.