Libya agrees to date of handover of Lockerbie suspects

South African President Nelson Mandela says Libya has agreed to hand over the two suspects accused in the Lockerbie bombing for trial in the Netherlands by April 6.

Mandela says United Nations sanctions imposed on Libya since 1992 would be frozen as soon as the suspects arrived in the Netherlands, and they would be lifted completely within 90 days.

The United States and Britain have accused Libyans Abdel Basset Ali Mohamed al-Megrahi and Lamen Khalifa Fhimah of planting a bomb that blew up a Pan Am jet over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in 1988. All 270 people on board were killed.

Mandela made the announcement after meeting in Tripoli with Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and an envoy from Saudi Arabia. Gaddafi said he trusted South Africa and Saudi Arabia's arrangements for the trial and the good faith of the United States and British governments.

At UN headquarters, diplomats and senior UN officials have reacted cautiously.

"President Mandela has been extremely constructive and helpful throughout this process. So the fact that he is making, shall we say, optimistic noises is very good news," said Jeremy Greenstock, Britain's ambassador to the UN.

"But let's wait until we see the full statement and see what the Libyan leadership actually says back to the Secretary General. That's the important thing."