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Italian leaders to visit Libya

Jan. 18, 2012 at 8:10 PM   |   Comments

ROME, Jan. 18 (UPI) -- Italy plans to help the transitional government in Libya train its national police, Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi said Wednesday.

Speaking in Parliament, Terzi said he and Prime Minister Mario Monti will visit Tripoli Saturday, the Italian news agency ANSA reported. He said they will be accompanied by business leaders and diplomats in an effort to reactivate a treaty that former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi signed in 2008.

Building a new police force is "essential" to Libya's future, Terzi said.

Libya is a former Italian colony and the two countries have had an up-and-down relationship since the North African state became independent. The Libyan government at one point disinterred the bones of Italian settlers and shipped them to Italy.

The 2008 treaty included reparations of $5 billion to Libya, payable over two decades, and Libyan assistance in stopping the flow of immigrants from North Africa.

Italy allowed the use of its airbases for NATO bombers during the fight to overthrow Gadhafi and also provided some of its own military planes.

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