Libya wants EU accord, strong US economic ties

Libya aims to sign a cooperation accord with the European Union in 2008 and forge strong economic links with former foe Washington, the foreign minister of the once-isolated country said.

Libya wants EU accord, strong US economic ties
The minister, Abdel-Rahman Shalgam, added in remarks to parliament he would travel to Britain next week to sign a prisoner exchange accord with Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Months of talks between Britain and Libya on a cooperation accord on judicial affairs including prisoner transfers have stirred suggestions -- denied by London -- that Britain plans to send home convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdel-Basset al-Megrahi.

Former Libyan intelligence agent Megrahi is serving a life sentence in Scotland for the 1988 bombing of an airliner over the town of Lockerbie, which killed 270 people.

Shalgam said visits by leader Muammar Gaddafi to Portgual, France and Spain last year had led to a new bid to deepen ties to Europe, which takes most of the OPEC member's oil exports.

"We've begun a comprehensive partnership negotiation with the EU," he said in a speech to parliament on Monday evening.

"There have been three rounds of talks and we'll resume them with the aim of reaching a detailed agreement in cooperation before the end of this year. It's very important."

The EU executive last month proposed launching talks on closer political and economic ties with Libya this year as part of a drive to boost relations with key energy suppliers.

Shalgam said there were judicial problems with America, and Tripoli opposed U.S. policy on Iraq, Palestine and Syria.

"But we've moved from a policy of confrontation to a policy of dialogue. To realise development after 20 years of sanctions, economic and cultural ties with America must be strong.

In May 2006, the Bush administration said it would restore formal ties with Tripoli as a reward for Libya's scrapping a programme of mass destruction weapons.

Shalgam added he would travel to Britain to sign a prisoner exchange accord with Brown.

A memorandum of understanding was signed in May 2007 during a visit to Libya by then Prime Minister Tony Blair to negotiate an accord on judicial cooperation within a year on subjects such as commercial law, extradition and prisoner transfer.


Agencies
Last Mod: 05 Mart 2008, 12:02
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