Swiss seek normalisation of relations with Libya

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Switzerland wants to regularise its relationship with Tripoli, the country's foreign minister said Monday, hours after bringing home a businessman who had been blocked from leaving Libya since July 2008.

"The work is not over. We want to normalise the bilateral relations" with Libya," said Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey, adding that all issues surrounding regularising Swiss-Libyan relations would be addressed.

Goeldi and another Swiss businessman had been blocked from leaving Libyan territory in a tit-for-tat row after the brief arrest in Geneva of Hannibal Kadhafi and his pregnant wife in July 2008.

Goeldi was this year sentenced to jail for visa offences and imprisoned for around four months before being freed on Thursday. The other Swiss was allowed to leave the country in February.

The minister acknowledged that the negotiations on the liberation of Goeldi had taken "much longer than expected".

Hannibal Kadhafi and his pregnant wife were detained by Swiss police after two of their domestic workers charged they had been mistreated by the couple at a Geneva hotel.

The two servants, who were subsequently compensated by the couple, later dropped their assault charges.

Diplomatic ties further deteriorated when Tribune de Geneve published leaked police mugshots of Hannibal in September 2008.

A deal to settle the row was finally signed over the weekend under the mediation of Spain and Germany.

Libya's Foreign Minister Abdelrahman Mohammed Shalgam announced during the signing that Hannibal had been awarded compensation by the Geneva canton over the publication of the mugshots.

Calmy-Rey on Monday said that the Libyan minister "had mentioned the compensation... He did not mention the figure".

Geneva cantonal authorities on Monday categorically denied that it had paid compensation to the Kadhafis.

© 2010 AFP

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