Libya's Gaddafi to Pay Historic Visit to London in December

After decades of being shunned by the West for terror ties, Gaddafi receives invite from British PM.

Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi will visit London in December, signaling a strengthening of ties between Libya and Britain following a decades-long freeze.

Gaddafi will take part in an international conference alongside oil-producing states being organized by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

By hosting the gathering of the main petroleum exporters, the British premier is angling to improve his standing on both the domestic and international fronts. The event, which hopes to encourage more openness and competition in the oil market while also advancing the pursuit of alternative sources of energy, is a continuation of a prior conference earlier this year in Saudi Arabia.

The goal thus necessitates engaging former enemies. Relations between London and Tripoli were severed following the American bombing of Libya in 1984. U.S. warplanes took off from their bases in the U.K. to strike targets in the country in retaliation for Libya's role in committing acts of terrorism.

Later that year, a British policewoman was killed after shots were fired from inside the Libyan embassy. The British government promptly cut off diplomatic ties with Tripoli following the incident.

Tensions between the two states simmered even further following the 1988 terrorist bombing of Pan Am flight 103, of which Libya is believed to be complicit. All passengers on board perished. In addition, the plane's wreckage slammed into Lockerbie, Scotland, where 11 civilians were killed by the debris.

In recent years, however, Gaddafi has made an effort to bring Libya back into the Western fold. Attempting to make amends, he has acknowledged Libya's role in both the Pan Am disaster as well as the shooting of the British policewoman.