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Bern implementing accord with Libya

The Swiss finance ministry says Bern is carrying out the terms of an agreement signed last week in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, "step by step".

This content was published on August 28, 2009 - 12:47

The accord, aimed at helping two Swiss hostages return home, was signed by Swiss President Hans-Rudolf Merz and Al-Baghdadi Ali Al-Mahmoudi, the Libyan prime minster.

Switzerland said it is carrying out the commitments it made in the accord to create the "best possible conditions" for the quick return of two businessmen who have not been allowed to leave Libya for just over a year.

The federal cabinet sent a government jet to Tripoli on Tuesday in hopes of bringing the men home, but the plane has since returned to Bern carrying only the men's luggage.

The ministry said that Libya was insisting that the two return as businessmen and not on a government jet.

The men, who are at the Swiss embassy in Tripoli, were detained after the arrest in Geneva in July 2008 of one of the sons of Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi. Hannibal Gaddafi was held following a complaint that he had attacked his domestic staff. Charges were never brought.

Under the terms of the Swiss-Libyan accord, an independent arbitration panel is to investigate the incident. The finance ministry statement said it would soon nominate a judge for that panel.

Merz, who has come under fire at home for his apology to Libya, has named the state secretary in the foreign ministry, Michael Ambühl, as Switzerland's representative to help restore bilateral relations. Ambühl is to contact the Libyan side "without delay".

It added that Merz had appointed staff at an early stage and they were "working round the clock" to implement the agreement.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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