No se­cret Libya talks, says Athens

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

The For­eign Min­istry de­nied yes­ter­day that Greek diplo­mats had held any se­cret talks with Libyan of­fi­cials with the aim of agree­ing to use some of Colonel Muam­mar Gad­hafi’s seized as­sets as col­lat­eral to fa­cil­i­tate the sup­ply of aid to both sides in the North African coun­try’s civil war.

A Bri­tish daily news­pa­per, The In­de­pen­dent, re­ported that the Libyan regime has been ne­go­ti­at­ing a se­cret deal with Greece to use $20 bil­lion of its funds that are frozen abroad for hu­man­i­tar­ian re­lief.

The news­pa­per claimed talks were held in Tripoli be­tween a team led by a for­mer diplo­mat close to Prime Min­is­ter Ge­orge Pa­pan­dreou and regime mem­bers in­clud­ing Libyan Prime Min­is­ter Al Bagh­dadi Ali al-Mah­mudi. The meet­ings re­port­edly re­sulted in a mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing that has re­mained un­signed be­cause the French gov­ern­ment warned Athens this would give Gad­hafi le­git­i­macy and un­der­mine the pol­icy of the West­ern coali­tion to keep him iso­lated.

The Greek For­eign Min­istry said that the re­port did not “re­flect re­al­ity.” How­ever, it did ad­mit that the Libya Con­tact Group, which con­sists of six in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tions and 22 coun­tries, in­clud­ing Greece, has dis­cussed the is­sue of mak­ing use of Gad­hafi’s as­sets abroad.

“As is known, dis­cus­sions have been un­der way within the frame­work of of the Libya Con­tact Group on the is­sue of sup­ply­ing hu­man­i­tar­ian aid for the Libyan peo­ple by us­ing the Libyan regime’s seized as­sets,” the For­eign Min­istry said in a state­ment. “Yes­ter­day’s meet­ing of the Con­tact Group in Abu Dhabi saw sig­nif­i­cant progress in this direc­tion.”

“Greece, along with its part­ners and al­lies, is ac­tively in­volved in the ef­fort to find a po­lit­i­cal so­lu­tion to the Libyan cri­sis and has stated its readi­ness to em­bark on ini­tia­tives with this aim and to sup­ply hu­man­i­tar­ian aid to the Libyan peo­ple,” the For­eign Min­istry said.

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