Switzerland suspends Libya normalisation deal

5th November 2009, Comments 0 comments

Switzerland on Wednesday said it was suspending an agreement to normalise relations with Libya over two Swiss citizens held there.

Geneva -- Switzerland on Wednesday announced that it was suspending a deal aimed at normalising relations with Libya, in a growing dispute with the North African country over two Swiss citizens held there.

The Swiss government said in a statement that it suspended an agreement struck with Libya on 20 August that aimed to resolve a dispute sparked by the brief arrest of one of Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi's sons in Geneva in 2008.

"The agreement has been suspended," government spokesman Andre Simonazzi told AFP after a cabinet meeting.

"It is common knowledge that Libya is refusing all cooperation," he added, as the government highlighted the plight of two Swiss businessmen held by Libyan authorities.

"The Federal Council (government) has therefore decided to suspend the agreement signed on 20 August in Libya," the statement said.

Simonazzi also said that Switzerland would continue its restrictions on visas for Libyan travellers "until further notice."

Swiss ministers have repeatedly accused Libya in recent weeks of failing to comply with the agreement reached after a controversial apology delivered by Swiss President Hans-Rudolf Merz over the arrest.

Tripoli first launched a series of retaliatory sanctions against Switzerland over the Kadhafi arrest in July 2008, and prevented the two Swiss businessmen from leaving Libya on alleged immigration offences.

However, instead of being allowed out of the country under the deal, the two went missing nearly a month later after they were invited out of the Swiss embassy, where they had been staying, for a medical check-up.

Libya said they were being held in a "safe" location in "good" circumstances.

But the Swiss government repeated on Wednesday that it had no news on where the two were being held and that diplomats had not been allowed to visit them.

In October, Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey accused Libya of "kidnapping" the businessmen.

AFP / Expatica

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