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Swiss president travels to Libya for talks

President Hans-Rudolf Merz is in Libya for meetings with government officials as part of Switzerland's attempts to solve a standoff between the two countries.

This content was published on August 20, 2009 - 15:50

The Swiss finance ministry confirmed Merz had met high-ranking officials during the trip to Tripoli on Thursday.

Reuters quoted a Libyan government source as saying the Swiss president was expected to issue an apology for the arrest of one of the sons of the Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi.

Relations between the countries have been strained since last July when Hannibal Gaddafi and his wife were arrested in Geneva, charged with assaulting two domestic employees. The charges were later dropped, but Libya has since been restricting Swiss business activities in the country.

Libya cut back oil supplies to Switzerland and withdrew more than $5 billion in assets from Swiss banks in 2008 over the incident.

Two Swiss businessmen are currently being detained in Libya. They are not allowed to leave the country. In addition, Hannibal Gaddhafi has a court case against the authorities pending in Geneva.

Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey last month said Switzerland intended to seek a meeting with the Libyan leader in order to help settle the dispute.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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