First Published: 2012-11-06


Italy's top diplomat in Libya for high-level talks with first elected authorities


Talks touch on business opportunities for Italian companies, notably in construction, energy sectors, boosting cultural exchanges.


Middle East Online

Will Libyas new regime benefit Italy?

TRIPOLI - Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi visited Libya on Tuesday for high-level talks with the first elected authorities since the ouster of veteran strongman Moamer Gathafi.

Terzi met with national assembly head Mohammed Megaryef and acting Prime Minister Ali Zeidan.

"We intend to develop with the new Libya, through this government, an even closer relationship, particularly on the political, security and economic front," Terzi told journalists in Tripoli.

The talks touched on business opportunities for Italian companies, notably in the construction and energy sectors, boosting cultural exchanges between the two nations, and increasing visas for Libyans wishing to go to Italy, he said.

Zeidan expressed his country's commitment to maintaining tight ties with Italy and vowed that Libya will no longer be a "jihadist state that exports deviant ideologies".

In September, Rome expelled two Libyans accused of spreading jihadist ideas.Zeidan said his cabinet would be sworn in next week, rather than on Thursday as had been previously announced by Megaryef, and take office shortly after that.

Terzi's visit comes a day after a criminal court in Rome ordered the release of more than one billion euros in Libyan assets frozen since March.

The court ruled that Libyan Investment Authority shares in aerospace giant Finmeccanica and UniCredit bank be unfrozen, LIA chairman Mohsen Derregia was quoted as saying by Italian news agencies.

The LIA, a government-managed sovereign wealth fund and holding company based in Tripoli, was a key financial pillar of Gathafi's regime.

It was created in 2006 to invest oil-rich Libya's vast foreign currency reserves and diversify income sources away from natural resources.

The Italian assets were frozen at the request of the International Criminal Court as part of an investigation into crimes against humanity by the late strongman and his inner circle.

Under Gathafi, Libya briefly held the biggest single stake in UniCredit.

Libya is a former Italian colony and Italy is the one of the top foreign investors in the country as well as being one of its top trade partners. Italy also played a crucial role in the conflict to oust Gathafi last year, acting as a base for NATO air raids.

Gathafi was overthrown by NATO-backed rebels in August 2011. He went into hiding but was found and killed two months later by an angry mob.


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