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Italy assistance promised in Libya affair

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi says he is prepared to intervene personally to bring an end to Switzerland’s row with Libya.

Berlusconi made the pledge during a meeting on Wednesday in Rome with this year’s Swiss president Doris Leuthard, Leuthard told Swiss public television.

“Italy wants to assist Switzerland and Max Göldi”, Leuthard said, referring to the Swiss businessman serving a four-month prison sentence in Tripoli on visa violation charges.

“[But] it will be Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi who will take the decision [on Göldi’s release],” she added.

Göldi, an employee of ABB, was first detained shortly after the brief 2008 arrest in Geneva of Hannibal Gaddafi, one of Gaddafi’s sons. Hannibal was arrested on charges he and his wife abused their domestic staff at a Geneva hotel.

Leuthard and Berlusconi also discussed Italy’s tax amnesty, which ended on April 30, and affected Swiss banks in Ticino.

“The tax amnesty caused problems for Switzerland, but it was a legitimate move and important for Italy,” Leuthard said. “Italy and Switzerland have their own ideas about what should be included in a double taxation agreement, and one must find a pragmatic solution that is in the interests of both.”

On Thursday, Leuthard will be granted a private audience with the pope, as part of the swearing-in ceremony of the new members of the Vatican’s Swiss Guard. and agencies

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