Thursday, July 22, 2010

British PM David Cameron stuffs face with hot dogs, keeps mum on Lockerbie bomber deal

BY Michael Mcauliff In Washington, James Fanelli and Larry Mcshane
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS

Thursday, July 22nd 2010, 4:00 AM

British PM David Cameron bites into a famed New York City hot dog during pit stop for lunch with Mayor Bloomberg near Penn Station.

British PM David Cameron bites into a famed New York City hot dog during pit stop for lunch with Mayor Bloomberg near Penn Station.

Should Britain face any kind of sanctions over the Lockerbie bomber release fiasco?

It's hot dog diplomacy: only open your mouth to take a big bite.

British Prime Minister David Cameron munched on the famed wieners Wednesday with Mayor Bloomberg on Eighth Ave., where both ignored questions about BP's role in Scotland's 2009 release of the Lockerbie bomber.

"Very good. Fantastic hot dog," Cameron replied as reporters unsuccessfully grilled him. "Lovely."

As Cameron spoke less than frankly, Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond told the BBC he held no regrets over freeing convicted cancer-stricken Libyan terrorist Abdel Baset al-Megrahi.

And in a letter to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee - obtained by the Daily News - Salmond admitted the Scottish government knew Megrahi could outlive his grim three-month prognosis.

"There was a recognition at the time that he could die sooner or live longer," Salmond wrote to Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), chairman of the committee.

"This was made clear in the Scottish government's public statements."

Megrahi, released last August with terminal cancer, was greeted as a hero in Libya. The only man convicted of the 1988 bombing remains alive in Tripoli.

Salmond also implied BP - which received a $900 million oil drilling deal from Libya once the mass murderer was freed - lobbied specifically for Megrahi's release.

BP has only admitted to pursuing a broader prisoner release from the entire U.K.

Salmond noted that British officials specifically pressed to include Scotland in the deal - and Megrahi was the only Libyan held there.

The 270 people aboard doomed Pan Am Flight 103 included 189 Americans flying from London to New York.

The four senators from New York and New Jersey are clamoring for a new probe into Megrahi's release, particularly in light of the new statements.

"The various claims from the Scottish government raise more questions," said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). "We need greater transparency here."

Cameron, who took office just 10 weeks ago, has said he doesn't need an investigation to confirm the release was a terrible mistake.

Bloomberg said earlier that he agreed with Cameron's criticism, but insisted it was not his place to ask about the flap.

"That's a federal issue, and there's no reason why I would bring it up," Bloomberg said. "It was a miscarriage of justice." Pressed on the issue, Bloomberg said later, "I'll leave the foreign policy to the President of the United States, where it should be."

Cameron arrived at Penn Station on an Acela train from Washington, where he met a day earlier with President Obama.

After dining alfresco with the mayor, he traveled to the Nasdaq offices in Times Square before heading across town to the United Nations for a meeting with Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

Bloomberg hosted the prime minister for a more upscale treat last night at a private upper East Side dinner.

mmcauliff@nydailynews.com

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