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USA*Engage Opposes Additional Iran-Libya Sanctions


Washington, D.C. - In a press release issued on October 23, 2003, USA*Engage announced its opposition to legislation introduced by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen that would "enhance" U.S. unilateral sanctions on Iran and Libya.

"This legislation moves in exactly the wrong direction and could not be more ill-timed" said Bill Reinsch, President of the National Foreign Trade Council and Co-Chairman of USA*Engage, alluding to the UN's removal of its sanctions on Libya and yesterday's announcement that Iran would suspend certain aspects of its nuclear program and allow unrestricted international inspections of its nuclear facilities. "The world has just witnessed the positive benefit of engagement with Iran by our European allies. Additional U.S. unilateral sanctions - most likely on European companies - send exactly the wrong signal to Iran, Libya, and our allies," Reinsch said.

Regarding Libya, Reinsch cited the recent United Nations vote to lift multilateral sanctions stemming from a settlement which established Libyan responsibility for the downing of Pan Am flight 104, and set a framework for settlement with victims' families. "The Ros-Lehtinen bill moves the goal post on Libya. Rather than impose further sanctions, it's time for the United States to join its allies in the tough diplomatic work that can bring Libya back into the community of nations," he continued.

"This bill is nothing more than a blunt instrument that also makes the mistake of treating Iran and Libya as if they were the same country, even though their situations differ significantly. It's time for legislators to recognize that diplomacy is a far more preferable and efficient approach to solving foreign policy problems - and that our goal of fighting terrorism and the development of weapons of mass destruction will benefit from a process of constructive engagement with both of these nations."

Finally, Reinsch pointed out that the provisions of the Ros-Lehtinen bill, ironically, acknowledge the complete failure of ILSA in its current form, as USA*Engage argued two years ago. "The Administration cannot waive the sanctions without demonstrating that the law is toothless, and it cannot impose the sanctions without creating a crisis with the European Union and the WTO. The Ros-Lehtinen bill would force the latter outcome to the detriment of our relations with our allies," he concluded.

USA*ENGAGE is a coalition of over 670 small and large businesses, agriculture groups and trade associations working to seek alternatives to the proliferation of unilateral U.S. foreign policy sanctions and to promote the benefits of U.S. engagement abroad. For more information on USA*ENGAGE and the harmful effects of unilateral trade sanctions, visit the USA*ENGAGE web site at

Contact: Eric Thomas
Elizabeth Ann Chandler

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