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No. 1114          DOI 19.07.2007


Malta’s Foreign Minister returned from Libya yesterday evening from a meeting with the Libyan Leader Muammar Ghaddafi in Tripoli. Foreign Minister Frendo described the meeting as “an important cordial meeting representing the deep friendship between our two neighbouring countries in which we engaged on issues of importance in our bilateral relationship and in regional and international affairs”.

In their meeting the Libyan Leader and Malta’s Foreign Minister discussed the close relationship between Malta and Libya and the ongoing cooperation between the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of the two countries, reiterating the two countries’ commitment to continue to deepen and strengthen it - including with regard to trade and investment - building on historic relations and the sharing of a common space and common challenges. They also discussed Mediterranean, African and European issues, the issue of illegal immigration, and of the continental shelf between the two neighbouring states. They concurred that it was important to strengthen the mechanism of the five plus five Western Mediterranean Forum comprising Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Mauretania, Malta, Italy, France, Spain and Portugal.

Foreign Minister Frendo said that Malta steadfastly keeps a special focus on the Mediterranean and places a special consideration on its relationship with Libya. Making reference to Libya’s role in Africa and the challenges of Africa. Minister Frendo recalled the difficulties being faced by Malta and other countries with regard to the phenomenon of illegal immigration and the importance for Libya and Malta to continue to collaborate in addressing the issue.

The Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Ghaddafi recalled the historic and close friendship between Libya and Malta and their peoples, and its sound basis in view of common cultural roots and geographical proximity. He appreciated the point made by Malta’s Foreign Minister that Malta’s friendship with Libya is expressed in Malta’s foreign policy internationally and within the context of the European Union.

Michael Frendo personally delivered a letter from the President of Malta Edward Fenech Adami in which he makes reference to the historic “bond of friendship between our two peoples” and states that Malta follows closely the efforts of Libya towards a closer union in Africa. The letter further states that while it makes its first years of experience as a member of the European Union, Malta remains steadfastly focussed “on the Mediterranean with a mission of being an interlocutor between cultures and continents” and looks forward to Libya’s contribution in the African Union-European Union summit schedules for the end of this year in Portugal.

Referring to the phenomenon of mass migration seeking a better life northwards towards Libya, Malta and beyond as one of “the challenges of Africa”, the President in his letter emphasises Malta’s concern in view of its size and it being the most densely populated country in the region. He asked for the Libyan Leader’s “special understanding of our situation”.

The letter personally delivered and discussed by the Foreign Minister, also makes reference to collaboration in the field of oil exploration “seeking a common way forward to the benefit of our two countries”, within the framework laid out by the successful Joint Commission recently held in Tripoli and co-chaired by the Foreign Ministers of Malta and Libya, Michael Frendo and Abdul Rahman Shalgam respectively.

In his short visit to Tripoli, Foreign Minister Michael Frendo also met Libyan Foreign Secretary Abdul Rahman Shalgam. Their discussions included the idea for a Mediterranean Union launched by French President Nicholas Sarkozy, who is expected in Libya in the next few days, and the developments in the HIV/Aids case relating to hundreds of Benghazi children and the Bulgarian nurses and doctor.

Also present for the meeting with the Libyan Leader was Mr. Abdellaati El Obeidi, Secretary for European Affairs.  Malta’s Foreign Minister Michael Frendo and Minister Obeidi had earlier this week met in Rome for an informal meeting with the Italian Minister for the Interior, Giuliano Amato.

The message from President Fenech Adami and the meeting of Foreign Minister Michael Frendo with the Libyan Leader Muammar Gaddafi were yesterday evening reported as the lead news item on Libyan television.

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