Kadhafi makes unexpected trip to Malaga

Libyan leader quits five-star hotel in southern Spain, heads to port city.

Kadhafi makes unexpected trip to Malaga
Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi and his entourage quit Sunday a five-star hotel in southern Spain a day earlier than expected and headed to the port city of Malaga, a source close to his delegation said.

Wearing sunglasses and wrapped up in a scarf, Kadhafi, who is due in the Spanish capital on Monday for the start of his official visit, left the Hacienda La Boticaria in one of about 30 official vehicles.

His convoy swept out of the exclusive countryside hotel and headed for Malaga, a port near the touristy Mediterranean strip in southern Spain known as the Costa del Sol.

The source close to his delegation said the Libyan leader, who courted controversy during a five-day trip to France earlier in the week, was now expected to spend the night in Malaga.

On the way south, he visited Cordoba and Granada, which were centres of power during the centuries of Moorish Muslim domination from 711 to 1492, the source added.

He also stopped to talk along the way to talk with local farmers: about the Arabic language origins of Spanish towns such as Guadalajara -- from the Arabic Wadi Al-Ljara or Valley of Stones -- or about the European Union.

Later, he went for a walk in the streets of Malaga, posing for pictures with passers-by and even accepting some Christmas gifts.

Another source close to the Libyan delegation said Kadhafi intended to travel to Madrid Monday by car for the start of the official part of his Spanish visit, rather than fly.

He is scheduled to meet Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero on Monday and King Juan Carlos on Tuesday, a government source said.

Spain and Libya are to sign a political cooperation agreement and a deal on investments while several contracts are being negotiated between companies from both countries, a diplomatic source said.

Kadhafi's visit to Spain follows a controversial five-day stay in France, during which the Libyan leader signed contracts that Paris said were potentially worth 10 billion euros (14.7 billion dollars) for French firms.

The Spanish branch of Amnesty International called Friday on Zapatero to raise with Kadhafi the issues of Libya's poor human rights record, lack of press freedoms.

Late Saturday, Kadhafi dined with Spain's former conservative prime minister Jose Maria Aznar and his wife Ana Botella.

In September 2003, Aznar became the first western leader to visit Libya shortly after the United Nations lifted sanctions imposed against Tripoli.


Agencies


Güncelleme Tarihi: 18 Aralık 2007, 00:17
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