Skip to comments.Gaddafi seeks cash from Berlin to clear desert war mines
Posted on 10/15/2004 5:20:24 PM PDT by MadIvan
THE Libyan dictator, Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi, wants Germany to pay millions of pounds in compensation for landmines left in the desert sands by Afrika Corps troops commanded by Rommel in the Second World War.
Berlin, which only recently brokered compensation payments from Tripoli for the Libyan-backed terrorist blast at the La Belle disco in the city in 1986, is said to be shocked by the demand.
The German chancellor, Gerhard Schröder, is in Libya now, trying to negotiate trade deals worth billions for his country. Officials say he has been "thrown" by the suggestion that Germany should compensate for a war that ended in the desert more than 60 years ago. "We look to normalisation between our two countries in the future - we dont look to the past," Mr Schröder said in a brief statement which encapsulated his view that the mines issue is non-negotiable.
A German foreign office official in Berlin said: "The gall of [Col Gaddafi] is quite breathtaking. First, he pays up for Lockerbie, then La Belle, and now wants cash to come back to him for mines laid over half a century ago."
Shortly before Mr Schröder left for Tripoli, his aides worked furiously to prevent a diplomatic nightmare when Col Gaddafis officials said they had planned for the chancellor to visit a memorial to the victims of the US bombing of Tripoli in 1986.
German foreign ministry officials told Tripoli it was "totally unacceptable" for Mr Schröder to make such a visit.
So, Col Gaddafi instead raised the landmine issue. He claims hundreds of his citizens are maimed and killed each year by mines and rotting munitions left over from the battles that convulsed the desert in the Second World War when the desert rats of Field Marshal Montgomerys British Eighth Army fought Rommels Afrika Corps.
Vast tracts of the desert are still no-go areas for vehicles and people, with the sand littered with mines of every type from German "S" mines - intended to blow the limbs off any soldiers who step on them - to the Teller-type mines capable of destroying a tank.
There are undoubtedly millions of British mines there too, although so far he has not asked for any money from Whitehall.
Col Gaddafi said: "Many of my countrymen die each year from these mines. Germany should pay towards their removal."
Last month, a three-day African Union conference in Addis Ababa called for many European countries which fought in Africa in the Second World War to contribute part of their defence budgets to land-mine clearance.
At least 17 million land- mines also remain in Egypt. Many are in the Devils Gardens in the western desert, where they were laid by Rommel during his withdrawal from El Alamein. Officials estimate it would cost £12 billion to remove the minefield.
Sounds good tome. Make the Krauts pay up for a war they started.
They made the mess, they should clean it up.
Too funny. I am thinking about suing the Germans over the two cousins of mine they took prisoner.
This is different. UXO: the gift that keeps on giving!
Schroder will go home with his panties in a french twist.
Why doesn't he go to the UN? They'd pass a resolution that the US was responsible for Germany planting the mines and should bear the cost of their removal.
Another view point:
Maybe after they pay off Libya, they can pay the US off, too, for WWII. Maybe they can convince their buddies, the French, to pay us back as well.
Ya, and ve got mittens too.
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