Italy and Libya on Tuesday, April 3, agreed to foster joint projects in the health, cultural and farming sectors as part of an effort to tighten relations between Rome and Tripoli.
Italian Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini said after talks with his Libyan counterpart Abdel Rahmane Shalgham that they had assessed already close ties between their two countries, and reviewed joint initiatives and projects in detail.
Dini cited health assistance, cures at health spas, and the reconstruction of a hospital in Benghazi, as well as Italian assistance in demining, as some of the projects. Rome and Tripoli were also aiming to simplify current visa regulations.
Libya is Italy's leading oil supplier, covering 30 percent of Italian needs, and Italy is Libya's most important source of imports overall.
Dini visited Libya in April 1999, just one day after the UN Security Council removed sanctions imposed on Libya in 1992 in connection with the bombing of a Pan Am flight over Lockerbie, Scotland, which killed 270.
The sanctions were suspended when Libya handed over two suspects in the bombing, who were later tried before Scottish judges in The Netherlands. One was convicted and the other acquitted.
The Italian foreign minister returned to Libya in August last year to discuss Libyan compensation claims for Italian colonialism. Then Italian prime minister Massimo D'Alema said during a visit to Tripoli in 1999 that his country wanted to be a bridge between Libya and Europe.
Projects in Libya, including the construction of a hospital for people with disabilities, the financing of agricultural projects and investment in Libya's electricity and tourism sectors, were already on the agenda of Dini's talks at the time.
During his last visit, Dini also met with Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi. The Italian gas company ENI in 1999 signed a $5.5 billion contract for the construction of a gas pipeline connecting Libya with Sicily. — (AFP, Rome)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)