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Libyan promise a "misunderstanding"

The Libyan government says it never promised that it would allow two Swiss nationals to leave Libya by the end of August.

This content was published on September 6, 2009 - 13:52

In an interview with the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper, deputy foreign minister, Khaled Kaim said Switzerland's expectation to see the two men come home was likely based on a "misunderstanding".

"Our prime minister promised to undertake some action before the end of August," Kaim told the newspaper.

He said Libya kept its word by allowing the state prosecutor to meet twice with the Swiss businessmen, who have taken refuge at the Swiss embassy in Tripoli.

However, the government cannot force the hand of the prosecutor, Kaim said, adding that he hoped a decision would be taken soon in favour of the two Swiss.

On August 20, Swiss President Hans-Rudolf Merz went to Tripoli where he signed an accord and apologised for the 2008 arrest in Geneva of the son of Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi.

Hannibal Gaddafi and his wife were accused of abusing their domestic staff during a stay in the city. Shortly after the Gaddafis were released, Libya imposed sanctions on Switzerland and detained the two Swiss businessmen on charges of violating immigration laws.

Kaim said the charges were not made up.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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