Barnier talks with Kadhafi prepare Chirac visit

7th October 2004, Comments 0 comments

TRIPOLI, Oct 6 (AFP) - French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier left Tripoli overnight following talks with Moamer Kadhafi to pave the way for a visit here by French President jacques Chirac, in another sign of the rapid reintegration of former pariah state Libya into the international fold.

TRIPOLI, Oct 6 (AFP) -  French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier left Tripoli overnight following talks with Moamer Kadhafi to pave the way for a visit here by French President jacques Chirac, in another sign of the rapid reintegration of former pariah state Libya into the international fold.  

A visit to Tripoli by Chirac, possibly before the end of the year, would be the first by a French president in over two decades.  

Barnier confirmed that he had passed on a "personal message" from Chirac to Colonel Kadhafi, adding that he had also discussed the situation in Iraq, the Middle East and Sudan with the Libyan leader, as well as bilateral relations.  

On the Middle East Barnier, talking to reporters before taking his flight home, stressed France's hope that "the current circle of violence can be broken".  

He also discussed the situation in the war-torn Sudanese region of Darfur with his Libyan counterpart Abdurrahman Mohamed Shalghem.  

Recalling that Libya was seeking to organise a mini-summit on Darfur this month involving the Sudanese government and the two main rebel movements in the area, the French minister urged all parties to "get back on the road of political dialogue".  

He said that the European Union would "accompany" the efforts of the African Union to forge a peaceful settlement in Darfur.  

A source close to his delegation said that Barnier had also discussed with Kadhafi the question of illegal immigration from Libya to Europe, seeking long- and short-term solutions to the problems.  

Upon his arrival here earlier Wednesday, Barnier said his visit was aimed at boosting Franco-Libyan relations which, he told reporters, "have experienced a new start, a new impetus since January 19".  

He was referring to the day when the Kadhafi Foundation signed an agreement to compensate the families of the 170 victims of a French plane which was bombed over Niger in 1989, lifting the last obstacle to a normalisation of relations between Tripoli and Paris. Under the deal, Libya agreed to pay USD 1 million per victim.  

Such moves have allowed Libya to rejoin the international community over the past year after decades of isolation over allegations of state-sponsored terrorism.  

Before the French compensation deal, Tripoli had already agreed to award massive compensation to victims of the 1988 Lockerbie plane bombing and then publicly dismantled its illicit weapons programs.  

"A new important stage (in relations between France and Libya) will be marked perhaps before the end of the year with the visit by President Jacques Chirac" to Tripoli, Barnier said.   While here, Barnier also met Libyan Prime Minister Shukri Ghanem who visited France in April.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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