Italian Foreign Minister Renato Ruggiero said on Sunday he welcomed the increase in trade between Libya and Italy and called for even closer links with Tripoli.
Speaking after meeting his Libyan counterpart, Abdel Rahman Shalgham, Ruggiero told reporters commercial ties between the two countries were "very important," adding that Italy took in 40 percent of Libya's exports and Libya absorbed 25 percent of Italy's sales abroad, according to AFP.
Libyan sources said Ruggiero and Shalgham had discussed plans to supply Italy with Libyan gas via a pipeline under the Mediterranean Sea estimated to cost $5 billion (5.5 billion euros).
Ruggiero said he and Shalgham had discussed "partnership projects."
The Italian foreign minister, who arrived in Tripoli on Sunday for a two-day visit, was later received by Libyan leader Moammar Khadafi.
Sources said Ruggiero assured Khadafi that ties between their two countries were "solid."
Meanwhile, Reuters quoted Shalqam as saying that “if US oil companies do not return to Libyan fields because of sanctions, they will lose rights to the fields.”
At the same time, Shalqam expressed in some of the most direct terms ever his country's desire to reconcile with the United States, which has maintained a unilateral embargo on the North African country since 1986.
"We are keen to have relations with America and Europe, but especially with America," he said.
The US recently extended for five more years sanctions against foreign companies conducting business with Libya.
Shalqam's remarks came a day after Kadhafi criticized the US in a speech marking the 32nd anniversary of his rise to power.
Experts believe that Libya is taking a more pragmatic approach to its foreign policy, said the agency.
While unilateral US sanctions remain, the United Nations suspended its sanctions in 1999, when Libya handed over for trial two of its citizens suspected of blowing up a Pan Am jetliner over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988 – Albawaba.com
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