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Tuesday, 23 October, 2001, 21:55 GMT 22:55 UK
Libya and France meet on terrorism
Colonel Gaddafi
France accused Gaddafi's government of terrorism until recently
By David Bamford, North Africa correspondent

The Libyan leader, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, has had talks in the capital Tripoli with the French co-operation minister Charles Josselin.

Mr Josselin is the first French government minister to go to Libya in nine years - a key development in moves to thaw relations between the two countries.


France has joined other Europeans countries in tentatively seeking a rapprochement with Libya

Relations broke down following the destruction of a French civilian airliner as it flew over the Sahara desert in 1989, killing 170 people on board. France had pointed the accusing finger on Tripoli.

The Libyan Government said France was calling on Libya to be a full partner in the war against global terrorism.

Colonel Gaddafi received the French co-operation minister for well over an hour.

Changing roles

The main point of discussion was reported to be new global perceptions of terrorism in the wake of the attacks on New York and Washington on 11 September.

French officials said Mr Josselin had handed over a message from President Jacques Chirac conveying France's desire to strengthen co-operation with Libya.

According to Libyan television both countries praised each other for their respective changing roles in Africa: France for its disengagement in the affairs of its former colonies and Libya for its increased involvement in the new African union.

State television said the two men stressed the importance of defining terrorism and determining its causes on the basis that nobody who was in their right mind would approve of terrorism.

Ironic

There is an irony in the fact that only a short time ago France was among those who accused Colonel Gaddafi of leading a regime that it suspected of sponsoring terrorism.

Mr Josselin's visit could only go ahead at all after a ruling by the French Supreme Court.

In March the courts finally killed a legal process against Colonel Gaddafi over the airline shooting.

Now France has belatedly joined other European countries in seeking to move tentatively towards a rapprochement with the Libyans.

Mr Josselin was due to go on to neighbouring Sudan on Tuesday night.

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
04 Sep 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Libya
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