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Swiss delegation to visit Libya

The government plans to send a delegation to Libya as soon as possible to push for the release of two Swiss businessmen taken into custody last week.

Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey made the announcement on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Saturday, revealing that diplomats no longer had contact with the men who have been prevented from leaving Libya for the past year.

“I do not know where the two men are, or how they are,” she said. “I am very concerned.”

She restated her view that it was “unacceptable” that the two businessmen had been taken into custody. She said there was no justification for the Libyan fear that Switzerland could otherwise have attempted to free the men by force.

Until the men were released, an agreement aimed at normalising relations between the two countries could not be implemented, the foreign minister said. President Hans-Rudolf Merz signed the agreement during a visit to Libya in August.

Following a meeting between Merz and Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi last week, it was revealed that Libya had requested that the two Swiss undergo a medical examination, after which they were detained.

At his meeting with Merz, Gaddafi let it be known he wanted to implement the agreement with Switzerland and would personally intercede to bring about the release of the men.

Rita Emch in New York, (Translated from German by Morven McLean)

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR