updated 10/12/2004 9:26:33 PM ET 2004-10-13T01:26:33

The son of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi proposed a new plan for general reforms in which he said his country will move away from the Middle East and reduce spending on the military.

“Libya has decided to separate from the so-called Middle East,” Seif al-Islam Gadhafi said at the opening session of a Tripoli conference for business leaders from Western countries.

Gadhafi said he is proposing a new reform plan that will include major cuts in military expenditure.

“There is no need anymore to continue spending on the military field,” he said. “Instead, we will direct such spending to development.”

The conference opened a day after the European Union ended 12 years of sanctions against Libya and eased an arms embargo to reward the North African country for giving up efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction.

Gadhafi said the decision heralded “a new era for the Libyan-Western relationship.”

The decision by 25 EU foreign ministers followed last year’s decision by the U.N. Security Council to lift 11-year-old U.N. sanctions against Tripoli. The United States last April lifted most of its commercial sanctions, but left in place trade restrictions that include an arms embargo.

“The Libyan markets are open for investment by all the countries around the world after the lifting of U.S. and European sanctions,” Gadhafi said.

Meanwhile, Libyan Prime Minister Shokri Ghanem said that Libya will soon be removed from the U.S. State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism, which substantially restricts commercial activities between the two countries.

U.S.-Libyan relations have been transformed since 2003, when Gadhafi’s government accepted responsibility, and agreed to pay compensation, for the bombing of a Pan Am airliner over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988.

It also agreed to dismantle its programs for weapons of mass destruction and allow U.N., American and British inspectors to visit the facilities.

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