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EU-Libya: An agreement before the end of this year?

13 mai 2010

According to Reuters, officials from the European Union and Libya said in Tripoli (May 11) they were on track to sign their first cooperation pact this year, cementing ties that bring EU countries lucrative trade and help control illegal immigration.

The EU lifted sanctions on energy exporter Libya in 2004 after the country’s leader, Muammar Gaddafi, renounced illegal weapons programmes, but the bloc still has no formal relations and no representative mission in Libya.

Diplomatic ties suffered a setback earlier this year when Tripoli, angered that Switzerland was barring entry to senior Libyans including members of Gaddafi‘s family, stopped issuing visas to most Europeans, but that row has since been resolved.

The so-called Association Agreement under negotiation between Libya and the EU will create a legal framework which could eventually lead to free trade and more cooperation on stemming the flow of illegal migrants from Africa to Europe.

« Some chapters related to trade are still under discussion and probably the agreement will be signed before the end of this year, » Mohamed Siala, Secretary for Cooperation at the Libyan Foreign Ministry, told Reuters.

An EU envoy said the next round of talks on the agreement would be early next month. « We hope to finalize it maybe by the end of the year, » said Adrianus Koetsenruijter, head of the bloc’s delegation to neighbouring Tunisia.

The ambassador also told Reuters the EU would for the first time set up a diplomatic mission in Libya, and that he expected it to be open before the end of the year. « Since we have started to establish for the first time relations between the EU and Libya, we need to have a presence on the spot, an embassy in fact of the EU, » he said.

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