The European Union and Libya open talks on cooperation agreement

More than 90 percent of Libya's oil exports go to Europe, so a cooperation pact with the North African nation is very important, the European Union acknowledged Thursday as the 27-member bloc began talks with Libya about the deal. EU foreign relations commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said the agreement - which could be concluded in 2009 - would open up trade, increase economic and political cooperation and be similar to those the EU has with other countries in North Africa and the Middle East. Ties between the West and Libya hit their lowest point after the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in which 270 people were killed. But have been improving steadily since Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi announced in 2003 that he was dismantling his country's clandestine nuclear weapons program, and after he agreed to pay compensation to the families of the Lockerbie victims.