South African President Nelson Mandela returned to Libya Wednesday to present Moammar Gadhafi with South Africa's top award for a foreigner. Gadhafi used the occasion to ridicule the United States and Britain.
The Libyan trip, Mandela's second in less than a week, prompted speculation that he might try to mediate an end to 5-year-old U.N. sanctions backed by the United States and Britain. South African officials, however, denied Mandela had any such plans.Gadhafi himself said Mandela's visit was simply an expression of support for Libya. He reiterated his refusal to turn over the two Libyan agents suspected of masterminding the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am jet over Lockerbie, Scotland, which killed 270 people.
The sanctions, which were meant to force Libya to turn over the two men, limit diplomatic contacts, ban arms sales and prohibit flights to and from the North African country.
"Asking Libya to hand over its citizens to America or Britain is a silly matter that makes us laugh, especially after the price we have had to pay," Gadhafi told a news conference.
Mandela made a two-day visit to Libya last week on his way to a summit of leaders of Britain and its former colonies, dismissing U.S. criticism of the stop.