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Spain says end to Swiss-Libyan crisis near

The Spanish prime minister, José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, says there is hope the Swiss-Libyan crisis can be resolved within “the next few hours or days”.

Zapatero, speaking on the sidelines of a European Union summit in Brussels, said Spain’s foreign minister, Miguel Angel Maratinos, would travel to Libya on Saturday.

Zapatero said Spain, which currently holds the EU presidency, was working hard on a solution.

He added that he was pleased Switzerland on Thursday lifted visa restrictions on leading members of the Libyan government, and hoped that Tripoli would follow suit and allow citizens of Schengen member countries to have access again to Libya.

The deal Spain is trying to broker could also include the release from prison of Swiss businessman, Max Göldi, serving a four-month sentence and detained in Libya since mid-2008.

The dispute began in the summer of 2008 when Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi’s son, Hannibal, and his wife were arrested in Geneva on charges of abusing their staff. They were released on bail and left Switzerland.

Libya retaliated by implementing economic sanctions on Switzerland and arresting Göldi and another Swiss businessman, who has since been released.

“This situation has evidently been to the disadvantage of all,” Zapatero said, adding that he hoped Göldi would soon be allowed to return to Switzerland. and agencies

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