Spain's FM starts Libya visit

Jan. 20, 2004 at 8:47 AM
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TRIPOLI, Libya, Jan. 20 (UPI) -- Spanish Foreign Minister Ana Palacio began an official visit to Libya Tuesday, signaling the return of the North African state to the international fold.

Officials said Palacio, who was welcomed by Libyan counterpart Abdel Rahman Shalqam, will discuss means for boosting bilateral relations as well as economic cooperation with Libya.

She is also scheduled to meet Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

Spain was in the vanguard in opening up to Libya after U.N. sanctions against the North African nation were lifted when it agreed to compensation in the bombing of a U.S. Pan Am airliner in 1988 over Lockerbie, Scotland.

The United States still maintains sanctions against Libya, but the last renewal was for three months rather than the usual year, after Libya said it would abandon its weapons of mass destruction program.

Spain regards Libya as an important economic partner and is seeking to boost trade and mutual investments.

Libya last year awarded contracts worth $361 million to two Spanish companies for building power plants and relay stations.

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