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The two Libyans accused by the West of planting the bomb that destroyed a Pan Am jet over Lockerbie are ready to go on trial in Scotland or the United States, their lawyer said.

But the men would want cast-iron guarantees that the hearings would be fair, lawyer Ibrahim Lagwell said in Tripoli Thursday night. Publicity in the United States made it virtually impossible to find impartial jurors, he added.Lagwell told Reuters the offer was conveyed to the U.S. and British governments through U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali before sanctions came into force against Libya.

Libya has been isolated by the U.N. sanctions - which cut its air links, arms trade and diplomatic missions - for its failure to meet an April 15 deadline to hand over Abdel Baset Ali Mohamed al-Megrahi and Al-Amin Khalifa Fhimah, the suspects in the 1988 airliner bombing over Scotland.

In a television interview broadcast Friday in Paris, PLO chairman Yasser Arafat urged Western leaders to seek a compromise with Libya over demands that it hand over the suspects.

The Palestine Liberation Organization leader told France's Antenne-2 television station that he was personally ready to participate in negotiating a solution to the crisis with Libya.

In London, the Foreign Office said it had seen reports of the lawyer's remarks but had had no official confirmation that Libya now was prepared to hand over the pair.

Asked when his clients told him they would be prepared to stand trial and whether that would include Scotland or the United States, Lagwell replied, "Yes - recently - at any place they can have a fair trial, even in the U.S. or Scotland. Any place. We are ready. But we must have the guarantees for that.

"I don't think they (the Libyan authorities) will reject the idea, because even the leader (Moammar Gadhafi) said if they voluntarily want to do it there is no objection to that."

Asked what guarantees he was seeking, Lagwell said, "First of all, they (the suspects) must be dealt with by the judicial departments (authorities) . . . not by the (foreign) intelligence services which have used their influence in the indictment."

He also wanted guarantees that theLibyans' lawyers be present with them.

"It is in the interest of my clients that they have a trial. What they are feeling now is very bad because they have caused all the problems for the others. Everybody will tell them all this problem was caused by you. Why haven't you accepted to go and have a trial?" he said.

Lagwell said he would prefer his clients were surrendered to a country having a judicial system where the judge ruled without the need for a jury.

Egypt, an ally of both the West and Libya, denied reports Friday that it had asked the U.N. Security Council to allow Gadhafi to fly to Cairo for talks on the Lockerbie crisis.

Libyan state radio reported that diplomats from the Spanish, Brazilian and Hungarian embassies in Tripoli were the latest expelled over the crisis.

The radio said the move to expel the diplomats was in response to similar moves against Libya by foreign countries it did not name.



The United Nations panel establishing the rules for sanctions against Libya has decided to grant permission to countries to temporarily lift the air embargo in order to fly their nationals out.

The 15-member U.N. Sanctions Committee, which has the same makeup as the Security Council, ruled at its first meeting Thursday in New York that countries wishing to evacuate their citizens will be granted permission 48 hours after an application.

A state of alert was declared at Cairo's international airport to cope with a mass of foreigners expected to enter Egypt by land.