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Spain and Portugal in Libya move

Libyan-Swiss relations were at the centre of talks between the Spanish foreign minister and the Libyan leader in Tripoli on Monday, a western diplomat says.

The official Libyan news agency, Jana, reported only that Miguel Angel Moratinos gave Moammar Gaddafi a message from the Spanish king, Juan Carlos II about the “fruitful cooperation” between Spain and Libya.

However, a western diplomat in Tripoli said Moratinos’ visit had taken place in the context of negotiations between the European Union and Libya aimed at ending the diplomatic crisis between Tripoli and Bern, the French news agency, AFP, reported.

Spain is currently in charge of the EU’s rotating presidency.

The same diplomat, who asked not to be named, said Portugal’s foreign minister, Luis Amado, had visited Tripoli on Sunday for the same purpose.

Relations between Libya and Switzerland have been strained since July 2008, when Gaddafi’s son, Hannibal, was briefly detained in Geneva on charges of mistreating two servants. The servants were compensated and the charges withdrawn, but Libya subsequently took a series of economic measures against Switzerland, and is currently holding a Swiss businessman in jail for visa violations.

The EU was drawn in when Switzerland prevented the issue of Schengen visas to specific high-ranking Libyans. This stops them travelling visa-free in Europe between the 25 Schengen countries. Libya responded last month by refusing entry to nationals of all Schengen states. and agencies


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