France, Libya discuss relations
Libya continued its gradual reintegration into the international fold Monday as the country's foreign minister Abdel Rahman Shalgham and his French counterpart opened a two-day conference on improving bilateral relations.
The meeting of the Franco-Libyan working group was its first in two decades, and came three days after French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin completed a trip to Tripoli.
"We're committed to defining a relationship that we'd like to mark with the seal of dialogue" following "a long period of crisis and lack of understanding, " de Villepin said at the beginning of the meeting, according to AFP.
Officials said the aim of the conference was to build up bilateral economic and cultural ties, with Paris eager not to miss out on oil and infrastructure contracts as Libya emerges from ten years under an international embargo.
Meanwhile, relatives of the 170 people killed in the 1989 Niger disaster demonstrated outside the French foreign ministry on Monday, saying a Libyan offer made last week to increase financial compensation to victims was inadequate.
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)