Libya said on Thursday it will halt fuel supplies to Switzerland in the latest reprisal for last week's brief detention in Geneva of a son of Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi. The supplies affected are those transported by ships operated by Libya's General National Maritime Transport Company, a company statement said. Oil transported by commercial vessels will not be affected.
According to AFP, the announcement came as a Swiss delegation held talks with Libyan officials at the foreign ministry in Tripoli in a bid to defuse tensions, diplomatic sources said.
The Swiss foreign ministry has said that the delegation would provide explanations on the arrest of Hannibal Kadhafi, 32, and his pregnant wife, on July 15 in a Geneva hotel. The couple was accused of assaulting some of their staff members.
A spokeswoman for the Swiss economy ministry expressed "concern" at the Libyan moves but hoped that the fuel stand-off would be resolved "rapidly." "Diplomatic exchanges are under way right now," the spokeswoman told AFP in Geneva on Thursday, adding that there were no risks of fuel shortages in Switzerland. "Sources of supply can be widened."
A joint statement by the maritime transport company and the port authority threatened further unspecified reprisals, and said Swiss-flagged ships had been banned from Libyan ports. The statement warned of "new escalatory measures" against Switzerland and demanded that Bern "closes within the next few hours the case it fabricated" against Hannibal Kadhafi.
It also demanded a formal Swiss apology for the arrest of Hannibal who says he was mistreated during his detention.
A few hundred employees from the transport company and port authority demonstrated outside the Swiss embassy in Tripoli before heading to the foreign ministry where officials from Switzerland and Libya were locked in talks.
It was the second protest since Wednesday when dozens of members of revolutionary committees loyal to Kadhafi demonstrated outside the Swiss mission.