German Foreign Minister Thanks Libya over Released Hostages
German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer thanked Libya on Tuesday for negotiating the release of European hostages held by rebels in the Philippines and said relations between Berlin and Tripoli were improving, reported Reuters.
Fischer flew in to Tripoli for a brief stopover on his way to New York.
German Marc Wallert was one of four Europeans who arrived in Tripoli on Monday after being freed by the Abu Sayyaf Muslim rebel group in the Philippines on Saturday, said the agency.
They were among 21 people seized by the rebels on an east Malaysian holiday island in April and held on Jolo in the southern Philippines.
“I thank the Libyan side, all the officials, and especially the head of the Kadhafi Foundation, for their hard work in ensuring the safe release of the hostages,” Fischer told reporters in a brief airport news conference.
“In the name of the German government, I say 'thank you'.”
Fischer was met at the airport by Ali Oujli, director of the European department of the Libyan Foreign Ministry, said Reuters.
AFP said that after briefly talking to journalists, Fischer was driven to meet Seif al-Islam, son of Libyan leader Muammar Kadhafi, head of the Kadhafi International Association for Charitable Organizations, which officially negotiated the release of the hostages.
Speaking at the airport on relations between Germany and Libya, Fischer said: “Our relations are improving within the framework of the Barcelona process...we will work towards improving these relations in the framework of our bilateral links and within the framework of multi-lateral relations.”
He noted that German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder had met Kadhafi on the sidelines of the Afro-European summit in Cairo in April, the agency added.
Libya is hoping its efforts on behalf of the hostages will help it return to the world diplomatic stage after years of isolation following the 1988 Lockerbie aircraft bombing, for which two Libyans are standing trial in the Netherlands. Fischer said he also hoped that two French journalists seized by the Abu Sayyaf rebels while covering the hostage crisis would be freed soon, said AFP – (Several Sources)
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