EU urges Libya to end travel curbs on Europeans

EU urged Libya to lift travel restrictions on European citizens following a travel row between Tripoli and Switzerland that has enveloped much of Europe.

EU urges Libya to end travel curbs on Europeans

The European Union urged Libya on Friday to lift travel restrictions on European citizens following a travel row between Tripoli and Switzerland that has enveloped much of Europe.

Tripoli stopped issuing visas to the 25 Schengen nations in retaliation for a decision by Switzerland, a member of the border-free zone, to bar entry to nearly 200 Libyan citizens including the country's leader Muammar Gaddafi and his family.

"Visa restrictions on some Libyan citizens are no longer in force, Swiss television reported on Friday. It did not cite a source but said it had learned of the decision on the sidelines of the European Union summit.

The Swiss foreign ministry declined to comment.

Switzerland's government said this week it was prepared to lift the travel ban as it worked to secure the release of Swiss businessman Max Goeldi from a Libyan jail.

"We hope that the Libyans ... will without further ado lift the restrictions on European citizens going to Libya," Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, whose country holds the EU presidency, told a news conference.

"We hope to see a resolution to this problem."

The Swiss offer came after weeks of mediation by the European Union to resolve the row, which is threatening the bloc's energy interests.

Some EU states with close business links to Libya, notably Italy, have accused Switzerland of misusing the Schengen agreement and keeping the rest of Europe "hostage".

Zapatero said talks involving the EU and the Spanish presidency were scheduled to continue.

"We are closer (to resolution) than we were," he said.

The dispute began in July 2008 when police in Geneva arrested Gaddafi's son Hannibal on charges, later dropped, of mistreating two domestic employees.

Hannibal Gaddafi was released shortly after his arrest but Libya cut oil supplies to Switzerland, withdrew billions of dollars from Swiss bank accounts and arrested two Swiss businessmen working in the North African country.

One businessman has been released but the other, Goeldi, is serving a four-month prison sentence. Tripoli has said the arrests were not linked.

Reuters

Güncelleme Tarihi: 27 Mart 2010, 10:02
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