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Frattini to meet Libyan foreign minister

Talks to focus on Schengen visa dispute

16 February, 17:00
Frattini to meet Libyan foreign minister (ANSA) - Rome, February 16 - Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini will meet here on Wednesday with his Libyan counterpart Mousa Kousa in an attempt to resolve an issue with Tripoli over visas issued to citizens from the Schengen area.

The foreign minister of Malta, Tonio Borg, will also take part in the talks, after which there will be a press conference, the sources added.

Libya on Sunday invalidated all entry visas issued to citizens from European border-free zone, over a dispute with Switzerland.

The dispute between Libya and Switzerland began in July 2008 after the Swiss arrested a son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, Hannibal, and his wife for allegedly mistreating their domestic help. They were released after an out-of-court settlement was reached with the servants but Libya retaliated by holding two Swiss nationals in custody for 18 months on what appeared to be trumped-up charges. After Switzerland joined Schengen, in December 2008, it issued a 'black list' of 188 'undesirables' who should be denied entry into the border-free area and included Gaddafi, his family and even members of his government.

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini has faulted Switzerland for the dispute but said the European Union should help it resolve its ''bilateral'' problem with Libya. According to the Italian diplomatic chief, the lists of people who Schengen members want kept out of the area should only include fugitives criminals or terrorists. By including Gaddafi and his family, Frattini said Monday night, Switzerland was holding the Schengen area ''hostage'' over a bilateral dispute between Bern and Tripoli.

The Schengen area includes all European Union countries with the exception of Britain and Ireland, plus Iceland, Norway and Switzerland.


Three Italians forced by Libyan authorities to spend the night at Tripoli airport were charged 60 euros each to have a chair to sit in while they awaited being repatriated.

The three who spent Monday night at Tripoli airport were all from Tuscany and had business interests in the North African country.

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