“Their main concern then was to secure our cooperation..”

The New York Times tells its readers that “Brown Backs Families’ Fight With Libya for I.R.A. Attacks”, after the recently noted u-turn over the campaign for compensation, whilst the Daily Telegraph interprets Downing St’s “facilitate, not negotiate” line as an unravelling of the Prime Minister’s pledge of support. It’s probably not the “full support” Jason McCue, the lawyer leading the class action, said would lead to the matter being “concluded swiftly in a matter of weeks”. And then there are the comments of Abd al-Ati al-Ubaydi, European affairs coordinator in the Libyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as reported by the BBC.

[Mr Al-Ubaydi] said that 20 years ago, during the embargo imposed on Libya, they had discussed the country’s past relations with the IRA and clarified their position. “They sent me a letter in which they thanked Libya for cooperating,” he continued. “Their main concern then was to secure our cooperation in order to reach a settlement between rivals in Northern Ireland. This is not a new position.”

The New York Times report adds

Ed Balls, the government’s schools secretary, told the BBC on Monday that government efforts in 2004 to negotiate compensation for the I.R.A. victims had failed because Britain and Libya had agreed to “recognize what had happened in the past, put it behind us and move on.”

Perhaps that point also came up in Gerry’s conversation with Downing St..