Libya has 'reservations' on Italy treaty: report

Libya said on Tuesday it has reservations about "certain points" in a 2008 treaty of friendship with former colonial power Italy, signed by the late dictator Moamer Kadhafi and former premier Silvio Berlusconi.

Libya "has reservations on a certain number of points included in the accord which need to be looked at again by the two countries," Mohammed Abdel Aziz, deputy foreign minister, was cited as saying by the official Wal news agency.

Abdel Aziz said the head of the ruling National Transitional Council, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, will be flying to Rome on Thursday to discuss the details of the treaty with Italian authorities.

"The vision of the new Libya is different from the previous regime when it comes to cooperation with Italy," he said, but added that the treaty did have some points on which both nations agreed.

The treaty was suspended when the Libyan uprising started in February.

Abdel Aziz's comments came as he ended a meeting with Domenico Giorgi, the head of the Mediterranean and the Middle East desk in Italy's foreign ministry.

Italy had been a close ally and economic partner of the ousted regime since the 2008 friendship treaty which was signed in Benghazi.

Italian companies were granted billions of euros in contracts in exchange for $5 billion in compensation for colonial rule, to be paid over 25 years.

The treaty also includes construction of around 1,700 kilometres (1,050 miles) of motorway coastline in Libya at a cost of $3 billion.

More than 180 Italian businesses had taken advantage of the favourable terms for trade links, including Finmeccanica, Impreglio and ENI, which became the biggest foreign energy producer in Libya.

The treaty also allows Italy to send back immigrants reaching its shores from Libya.

Tripoli in return undertakes to limit illegal immigration from its shores.

On December 5, Libya said its forces had prevented more than 400 Africans from illegally emigrating to Italy when they intercepted a boat off the coast of the North African country.

But some immigrants said they were victims of a planned fraud.

Before the start of the an-Kadhafi revolution, the former leaders of the two countries maintained close relations and celebrated the anniversary of the treaty on August 30 every year.

During a visit in September, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini sought to rebuild Rome's close ties with Tripoli, saying Italy was ready to unfreeze vast sums of Libyan funds and resume key energy projects.

Frattini then said a key first step would be for Italy to release about 2.5 billion euros ($3.36 billion) in Libyan funds frozen under Kadhafi.

Frattini also said he expected the Greenstream pipeline -- which carries Libyan natural gas across the Mediterranean to Italy and was shut down in February -- to resume operating by the end of October.

Frattini had also dismissed claims that Italy had been too close to Kadhafi and not done enough to support the revolution against his 42-year rule.

Italy was Libya's colonial ruler from 1911 until World War II.

(Source: AFP)

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