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Friday, August 20, 1999 Published at 14:09 GMT 15:09 UK

World: Africa

Gaddafi calls for United States of Africa

Colonel Muammar Gaddafi: Vision for the future

Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi has called for the creation of a United States of Africa and raised the prospect of a single currency for the continent.

In an interview with the French newspaper, Le Figaro, he said the time had come for African countries to "throw away the rifle" and work for peace and development.

He said modern road, rail and air links had to be created to link the countries of sub-Saharan Africa with those of northern Africa.

"It is the interest of Europe, America, China and Japan that there be an entity called the United States of Africa. This is the historic solution for the continent."

He said Europe now wanted dealings with regional groupings rather than individual countries.

His comments come ahead of an extraordinary summit of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) next month when heads of state are set to discuss revising the body's charter.

The OAU summit also coincides with the 30th anniversary of the toppling of the Libyan monarchy when Colonel Gaddafi seized power.

Single currency

The Libyan leader, who is known for trying to unite Libya with Arab countries, said: "Africa is my natural place ... African Arabs are Africans and Arabs who live in Asia are Asians."

He also proposed the setting-up of an African Development Bank, and suggested that the continent could eventually have its own single currency.

He added that the "time for wars was over", saying that the scourge of African countries was that each one wanted to have its own armed forces.

"An army is costly and has nothing to do but coups. As for me, if a neighbouring state wants to invade Libya, I'll scatter flowers on its way. Let it come to help me face Libya's problems".

On relations with France, Colonel Gaddafi said they were now good.

But he added the fact that Libya had paid compensation for the bombing of a French airliner over Chad in 1989 did not mean that Tripoli was responsible for the attack.

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