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The BBC's Caroline Hawley
"The theme of the Italian prime minister's visit has been one of reconciliation"
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Friday, 3 December, 1999, 12:40 GMT
Libya denounces terrorism
Prime Minister Massimo D'Alema of Italy and Colonel Muammar Gaddafi of Libya. The statement followed a meeting between the Italian and Libyan leaders

Libya has issued its clearest denunciation of terrorism yet.

The move - a significant further step in Libya's reconciliation with the West - came in a joint statement issued at the end of a visit to Tripoli by the Italian Prime Minister, Massimo D'Alema.

Colonel Gaddafi Colonel Gaddafi: Seeking response from US
"The two sides underscored the need to deny aid and protection to those responsible for terrorist acts and expressed the hope that further measures of co-operation can be adapted to prevent, contain and repress such acts," the statement said.

The statement was issued after Mr D'Alema held more than three hours of talks with Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi at a military compound in the outskirts of Tripoli.

Both sides underscored the need to respect international agreements against terrorism, the joint statement said.

And in what appeared to be a message directed at Washington, it added: "Libya repeats the need for states to abstain from holding on to their preconceived ideas or to practise political discrimination."

Lockerbie Sanctions were imposed after the Lockerbie crash
Earlier this year, Colonel Gaddafi surrendered two Libyans suspected of the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am airliner over Lockerbie, Scotland, which killed 270 people.

And last month, the United Kingdom restored full diplomatic ties after Libya agreed to pay compensation to the family of policewoman Yvonne Fletcher, who was killed by gunfire from the Libyan Embassy in London in 1984.

But the United States, which broke with Tripoli in 1981, said it was still too soon to lift sanctions.

'Depends on America'

Speaking to reporters before boarding his plane for Rome, Mr D'Alema said: "Libya considers fundamentalism as a threat which must be stamped out."

Colonel Gaddafi was asked about Libyan relations with the UK and the US.

He said: "With Great Britain there is no longer a problem. But with America, it depends on America."

The US, however, was unmoved by the latest developments and said sanctions against foreign companies making large investments in Libya would remain.

A State department spokesman said Libya had still to renounce terrorism, co-operate in the Lockerbie trial or compensate the families of the victims.

'New era'

Mr D'Alema was the first Western head of government to visit Libya since UN sanctions were imposed in 1992.

The Italian press had speculated D'Alema would invite Gaddafi to make an official trip to Italy - his first to a European Union and Nato member state.

"In theory I would like to go (to Italy)," Colonel Gaddafi said.

"But in practice there are many things that have to be done. We are working on it and let's hope we can do it."

Mr D'Alema said a trip by Colonel Gaddafi to Italy was unrealistic at the moment as some bilateral issues had yet to be ironed out but he hoped the Libyan leader could eventually come to Rome.

Italy, which has big commercial interests in Libya, notably in the oil and gas sector, saw its duty as playing a role as a bridge between Libya and Europe, Mr D'Alema said

"A new era is opening and we in Italy want to be the first to open the doors to this new epoch," he said.

Earlier, after laying a wreath at a monument to Libyan dead in a revolt against Italy's 1911-1943 colonial rule and returning an ancient statue plundered by the Fascists, Mr D'Alema said a dark page of history had been turned.
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See also:
02 Dec 99 |  Middle East
Italian premier meets Gaddafi
07 Jul 99 |  UK Politics
UK restores Libya links
05 Apr 99 |  World
Trial follows years of bargaining
05 Apr 99 |  World
Analysis: Legal firsts for Lockerbie trial
10 Jul 98 |  World
Italy-Libya statement
10 Jul 98 |  Middle East
Libya says Italy is sorry

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