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GADHAFI WITHDRAWS SUPPORT FOR TERRORISTS

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Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi admitted Wednesday that he has supported international terrorism in the past but has stopped because he thinks it was a mistake.

"In fact, I think that hijacking planes and assassinating civilians falls into the category of murder and has nothing to do with" struggles for national liberation, Gadhafi was quoted in the weekly magazine Al Mussawar."We must not be held responsible for these acts because we have withdrawn our support of these groups."

Gadhafi, whose past support of terrorism and hostility toward the United States prompted U.S. officials to brand him the "mad dog" of the Middle East and led to a U.S. bombing raid of his country, also hinted at a willingness to improve relations with Washington.

"We have a feeling now that the administration of President Bush would be more rational in tackling many of the issues the previous American administration thought that using force was enough to solve them," he said.

The interview follows a series of moves by Gadhafi to mend relations with his neighbors, ease Libya's political isolation and tone down his image as a dangerous radical.

Asked about reports Libya has provided sanctuary and support for terrorist organizations, Gadhafi conceded he made a mistake in confusing terrorism with legitimate struggles for national independence.

"At one stage, we used to support a number of these groups without making sure first what their real objectives and role were," he said. "But when we found out that these groups do harm to the Arab cause more than they help it, and even as far as the world public opinion is concerned, we completely stopped our support of them."