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Spain sees "progress" in Swiss-Libyan row

A meeting between the Swiss and Libyan foreign ministers has brought “progress” towards solving the dispute between them, the Spanish foreign minister says.

Miguel Angel Moratinos met the Swiss minister, Micheline Calmy-Rey, in Madrid on Thursday and then attended a meeting between her and her Libyan counterpart, Mousa Kousa.

The meeting was brokered by Spain since it currently holds the presidency of the Council of the European Union.

It followed a rise in tension since Libya started earlier this week turning away citizens of all member countries of the Schengen Area.

Libya took the measure in response to an alleged blacklist imposed by Switzerland on its Schengen partners, as a result of which a number of high-ranking Libyans are unable to benefit from visa-free travel between European countries.

Italy and Malta, which have strong economic ties with Libya, have accused Switzerland of abusing the Schengen system, and called on it to scrap the blacklist.

However, Calmy-Rey told the Italian newspaper La Repubblica in an interview published on Thursday that Switzerland had done all it could to solve the row with Libya, which erupted in July 2008 after a son of Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi was detained in Geneva on suspicion of abusing two of his domestic staff.

Among the measures taken by Libya against Switzerland is the case of two Swiss businessmen forbidden to leave the country since July 2008.

The Italian foreign minister said on Wednesday after speaking with Mousa Kousa that Libya would release the two if Switzerland lifted its visa conditions, and investigated the leak to the press of mug shots of Hannibal Gaddafi taken by the Geneva police.

The prosecuting authorities in Geneva issued a statement on Thursday saying that the investigation into the leak had started as soon as the photo was published in September, since it was a violation of Swiss law.

swissinfo.ch and agencies


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