Italy's Berlusconi to visit Gaddafi: Minister

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi will soon meet with Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan leader who opposed the appointment of a minister over a T-shirt thai is offensive to Muslims.

Italy's Berlusconi to visit Gaddafi: Minister
"We are setting up a meeting with Gaddafi, I can confirm that the prime minister intends to meet him," Foreign Minister Franco Frattini told reporters on Thursday.

Italy is OPEC member Libya's main European trade partner and Italian oil company ENI holds stakes in pipeline, natural gas and oil projects in Libya.

Libya is also a major launching point for thousands of Africans who cross the Mediterranean every year to land on Italian shores as illegal immigrants. With many Italians blaming them for crime, Berlusconi launched some tough measures on Wednesday such as making illegal immigration a jailable offence.

Earlier this month, Libya said it would suspend cooperation on immigration after Berlusconi appointed Roberto Calderoli who, at the height of a 2006 row, wore a T-shirt showing Danish anti-Islam cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.

Tripoli was also reported to be preparing sanctions against Italy affecting ENI's activities in the North African country. But the two countries patched up after the minister, Roberto Calderoli, offered an apology.

Frattini, a former European Commissioner, said last week he would travel to Libya himself to talk about illegal immigration and Italy's interior minister has promised to speed up an accord with Tripoli from end-2007 on joint patrols in Libyan waters.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 22 Mayıs 2008, 17:30