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Provided Moammar Gadhafi lives up to the deal -- and that's a big if -- the agreement that would have two Libyan terrorists tried for mass murder in the Netherlands for the Pan Am 103 bombing is about the best the world can achieve.

Most of the 270 people who were killed in the 1988 explosion over Lockerbie, Scotland, were American or British. Those nations have the right to try the suspects here or in England. But that is a hollow right if it can't be enforced.

Six years of United Nations sanctions -- including air travel and arms-sales bans and the freezing of assets -- have failed to persuade Gadhafi to turn over the two suspects.

The U.N. Security Council accompanied its offer with the threat of additional sanctions -- such as perhaps an oil embargo -- if Libya doesn't live up to this deal.

It can be argued that such a step should have been tried before proffering this arrangement. But with many Third World nations already losing patience with U.S. and European sanctions on less-developed nations, there may not have been support for such a step.

As it is, it's not as if the suspects would be escaping justice. The deal calls for them be tried in the Netherlands by a panel of three Scottish judges according to Scottish law. That assures that they will be tried in accordance with Western principles of justice.

It is not an ideal solution. But the deal would ensure one thing: That two suspected terrorists receive true justice for their roles in one of the century's most horrendous crimes. And that, after all, is why the sanctions were imposed in the first place.

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