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After months of secret talks with the U.S. and Britain, Qaddafi surprised the world in Dec. 2003 by announcing he would give up the pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and submit to full UN weapons inspections. After inspections at four secret sites, the International Atomic Energy Agency concluded that Libya"s progress on a nuclear bomb had been in the very nascent stages. In May 2006, the U.S. announced it would restore full diplomatic relations with Libya after a 25-year hiatus.

In Dec. 2006, five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor working in Libya were sentenced to death after being convicted of infecting hundreds of Libyan children with AIDS. The evidence used to convict the medical workers is considered highly specious, and many believe that Libya is attempting to deflect the blame for the 1998 outbreak of AIDS in a Libyan hospital. In July 2007, Libya"s Supreme Court upheld the death sentences. Days later, however, the country"s High Judicial Council commuted the sentences. On the same day as the commutations, the government agreed to pay $1 million to the families of each of the 460 victims.

Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, the Libyan terrorist convicted of bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, was freed from prison on compassionate grounds by Scotland in August 2009. (He is suffering from terminal prostate cancer.) His return to a hero"s welcome provoked outrage from victims" families, and the White House opposed this decision, stating that Megrahi should finish his sentence in Scotland.

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