British royal not to visit Libya

LONDON: Britain's Prince Andrew is not planning to visit Libya, Buckingham Palace said Monday, three days after plans were reportedly called into question by a row over the released Lockerbie bomber.

Last week a spokesman for the prince said that a trip was "in its planning stages," while the BBC reported that it was unlikely to go ahead following the hero's welcome given to Abdelbaset Ali Mohmet al-Megrahi in Tripoli.

The Foreign Office said at the time that it had not received an invitation from Libya.

On Monday Buckingham Palace issued a statement saying simply: "There are no plans for the Duke of York (Prince Andrew) to visit Libya," while not confirming that a visit had been planned.

Queen Elizabeth II's second oldest son had been planning to visit Libya in early September in his role as Britain's special representative for international trade and investment, according to the BBC.

Megrahi, the only man convicted over the 270 deaths in the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am jet over the Scottish town of Lockerbie, was released from prison on compassionate grounds last Thursday.

The former Libyan agent, who has terminal prostate cancer, was greeted by cheering crowds when he arrived in Tripoli, a scene described by British Foreign Secretary David Miliband as "deeply upsetting, deeply distressing".

A spokesman for UK Trade Investment (UKTI), which promotes Britain's trade and investment interests, said Prince Andrew had held 55 meetings with heads of state and government as well as ministers in 2008-2009.

"Those who have worked with the Duke believe he is a real asset to supporting UK business success," he added.