Libya, Italy Boost Ties by Signing New Agreeement 22/01/2012 13:20:00
Libyan Prime Minister Abdurrahim el-Keeb (right) and his Italian counterpart Mario Monti during a joint news conference in Tripoli
Italy and Libya signed a wide-ranging political pact to redefine their ties in the post-Gaddafi era, as Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti made his first visit to Tripoli since the dictator’s fall.
It was unclear if the new "Tripoli Declaration" signed by Italy and Libya replaces a "friendship treaty" signed by Muammar Gaddafi and former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi. But Libyan Prime Minister Abdurrahim el-Keeb, who signed the pact with his Italian counterpart, signalled that for now the friendship treaty was on the back-burner.
On the sidelines of a joint news conference with Mr Monti after the signing ceremony Mr El-Keeb told AFP: "We left it aside."
"One of the articles of the friendship treaty says it is possible to re-examine it. Libya has changed. Only one person signed that treaty (Gaddafi)."
"The important thing is that the relationship is amicable and based on mutual respect and consideration," Mr el-Keeb added.
The friendship treaty was expected to be revived during Mr Monti's visit that was suspended during last year's uprising, which ended after eight months with the killing of Gaddafi in October.
The treaty had eased the way for billions of euros in two-way investments.
In the first agreement Italy had also agreed to pay Libya five billion euros over 25 years in compensation for colonial rule and included the construction of around 1,700 kilometres of coastline motorway in Libya. Under the treaty, more than 180 Italian businesses took advantage of the favourable terms for trade links in Libya.
Monti is reciprocating the visit the head of the NTC Mustafa Abdul-Jalil made to Rome last month to discuss the treaty that was signed by Gaddafi and Berlusconi, that helped ease the way for billions of euros (dollars) in two-way investments. His delegation of high-ranking officials, included foreign minister Giulio Terzi and Admiral Giampaolo Di Paola.
Monti's visit is expected to follow next month with another high-level Italian delegation to be led to the industry minister.
The Italian premier said earlier, that his trip to Libya, the first "structured" visit by a head of state to Libya after the fall of the Gaddafi regime, was aimed at maintaining Italy's privileged ties with it after the end of the four-decade old regime. Italy has a privileged relationship with Libya.
During his visit, Monti also returned to Libya the head of a 2,000 year-old statue that was smuggled out of the country in the 1960s. He gave the sculpted head of Domitilla Minor, the daughter of Roman emperor Vespasian, to Libyan authorities on Saturday.
The sculpture was taken from Libya's northwestern city of Sabratha in the 1960s, and recently auctioned at Christie's.
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