Bush phones Gadhafi to laud claims settlement deal

President George W. Bush telephoned Libya's Moammar Gadhafi to express his satisfaction over a $1.5 billion payment that Tripoli made to settle a long-standing dispute over terror attacks, including the bombing of a Pan Am jetliner over Scotland, the White House said Monday. In their conversation, Bush and Gadhafi "discussed that this agreement should help to bring a painful chapter in the history between our two countries closer to closure," White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said in a statement. Libya's Oct. 31 payment cleared the last hurdle in restoration of full normalization of diplomatic relations between Washington and Tripoli. The money will go into a $1.8 billion fund that will pay $1.5 billion in claims for the 1988 Pan Am 103 bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland, and the 1986 bombing of a German discotheque. Another $300 million will go to Libyan victims of US airstrikes ordered in retaliation for the disco bombing, which killed two American soldiers. David Welch, a State Department diplomat who negotiated the agreement, said at the time that payments to US victims' families should start within days, and a group of families who lost relatives in the plane crash praised the news.