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Monday, 10 September, 2001, 06:26 GMT 07:26 UK
Libya 'to buy all Caribbean bananas'
Colonel Gaddafi
Gaddafi wants to break European 'stranglehold'
By North Africa correspondent David Bamford

Libya is reported to have offered to buy all the bananas produced in the Caribbean region at above market prices.

Caribbean officials say the proposal was made by the Libyan leader, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, when he hosted a controversial visit to Tripoli just over a week ago by the prime ministers of several Caribbean islands.

It is by no means the first apparently philanthropic gesture that he has made recently

The three leaders who made the trip - from St Vincent, Grenada and Dominica - have confirmed that the Libyan Government has promised them a $21m package of grants and loans.

A Libyan delegation is due to arrive in the Caribbean later this month to make arrangements.

It has also emerged, by way of representatives sent by St Lucia and Antigua, that Colonel Gaddafi has offered to buy up the total production of Caribbean bananas at above market price.

This is to enable the banana-producing islands to break free from what the colonel is said to have described as the economic stranglehold of Europe and the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

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The Caribbean leaders went to Libya to take part in celebrations marking the anniversary of the 1969 revolution that brought Colonel Gaddafi to power.

Bananas could hold the key to better relations between Libya and the Caribbean
The prime ministers of St Lucia and Antigua pulled out of the trip at the last moment, reportedly in response to pressure from a bemused US State Department.

It is not entirely clear whether Colonel Gaddafi's banana offer will become a reality or indeed what his thinking is in offering it.

It is by no means the first apparently philanthropic gesture that he has made recently.

In the last two years, Libya has been bankrolling a range of impoverished countries in the African Sahara and has begun supplying petroleum to fuel-starved Zimbabwe at knock-down prices.

See also:

05 Sep 01 | Middle East
US warns Libya over oil installations
24 Aug 01 | Middle East
Caribbean leaders defend Libya trip
23 Jul 01 | Africa
Gaddafi: Africa's new sponsor
13 Jul 01 | Africa
Gaddafi driven to support Mugabe
09 Jul 01 | Africa
Q&A: African Union
08 Jun 01 | World
Analysis: The new bogeymen
11 Dec 99 | Middle East
Libya seeks new beginning
04 Sep 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Libya
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