Cameron's First U.S. Visit Overshadowed by Lockerbie Bomber Outrage

By Anne McGinn, Fox News

In an effort to defuse what will likely be the biggest point of contention in their Tuesday White House meeting, British Prime Minister David Cameron is expected to tell President Obama that the release of convicted Pan Am Flight 103 bomber Abdel Baset al-Megrahi was “wrong.”

In their first White House meeting, the two leaders are also expected to discuss Afghanistan, BP’s handling of the oil spill in the Gulf and its alleged role in the release of al-Megrahi.

In an interview with BBC news, Cameron, who was elected prime minister in May, said he “deeply regrets” the pain the decision caused but asserted that the release of al-Megrahi in August of last year was the decision of the Scottish government alone.

“All I know is, as leader of the opposition, I could not have been more clear that I thought the decision to release al-Megrahi was completely and utterly wrong,” be told the BBC.

Al-Megrahi was convicted in 2001 and sentenced to life in prison for his role in the December 1988 bombing which killed 259 people on board and 11 people on the ground in Lockerbie, Scotland.

Al-Megrahi, who suffered from prostate cancer, was released in August 2009 by Scottish officials on “compassionate grounds” after he was given only 3 three-months to live. Al-Megrahi received a hero’s welcome when he returned to his native Libya — where he is still living — almost one year later.

Just as British-owned BP sealed the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, the company came under fire again, but this time for allegations that BP, which has lucrative oil contracts in Libya, lobbied the British government in 2007 to proceed with a UK-Libya prisoner transfer agreement. BP has acknowledged it warned the Labour government of a possible “negative impact on UK commercial interests,” but denies there were any discussions with either the UK or Scottish government about al-Megrahi.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Saturday there was no evidence BP had any connection with al-Megrahi’s release, but there is little doubt Prime Minister Cameron, who travels to Capitol Hill for meetings with House and Senate leadership Tuesday, will be peppered with BP questions. Just last week New York Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer called on the company to suspend oil drilling plans in Libya until the company’s role in the release of al-Megrahi is investigated.

“The bottom line is simple: If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it just might be a corrupt deal between BP, the British government, and Libya,” said Schumer, who lost numerous constituents in the December 21, 1988 bombing,

“Back in 2007, BP and the Libyan government struck a $900 million oil deal that the prime minister, Tony Blair, helped coordinate,” said Schumer in a news conference with reporters. “But the deal ran into roadblocks, and BP admits that it pushed the British government to expedite a prisoner exchange agreement with Libya to smooth the way for an oil deal. We then know that the British government agreed to release al- Megrahi based on a fraudulent doctor’s prognosis that he only had three months to live. All of a sudden, once Megrahi is released, all the roadblocks to that oil deal are removed and, lo and behold, the oil deal is finally approved. If anyone thinks this is a coincidence, I have them a bridge to sell them in Brooklyn,” the senior senator from New York charged.

In his interview with BBC, Cameron said on the topic, “I have no idea what BP did. I am not responsible for BP.”

To read more, visit: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/07/20/bp-stealing-thunder-camerons-visit/

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