For the first time since 1980, Libyan nationals are enrolled at a US university. Oklahoma State University welcomed 7 Libyan students after diplomatic ties were reestablished between the US and Libya. There is a long history between OSU and Libya and the story from the OSU newspaper, the Daily O’Collegian (linked here), makes it clear that OSU is delighted to pick up where it left off 26 years ago. All politics aside, student exchanges between the US and Libya can only be beneficial.
The US declared Libya a state sponsor of terrorism in 1979, and closed its embassy in Tripoli in 1980, cutting all diplomatic ties. The US even conducted air strikes against Libya in 1981 and 1986 in response to suspected Libyan sponsorship of terrorist activities. And most damning of all was Libya’s sponsorship of the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 in 1988 which killed 270 people, most of them American. But since 2003, relations have been warming as Libya renounced terrorism and announced it was giving up all programs for the development of weapons of mass destruction.
Some say that Libya’s significant oil reserves have a lot to do with the recent thaw in relations. In any event, the US will upgrade it current liaison office in Tripoli to a full embassy. Libya’s removal from the list of state sponsors of terrorism leave only 5 countries on the US list — North Korea, Iran, Sudan, Syria and Cuba. (See related post here about new Florida law banning academic travel to Cuba)