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French President Meets With Libya's Gadhafi

  • Anita Elash

French President Nicolas Sarkozy arrived in Libya Wednesday to meet with Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi in Tripoli. Mr. Sarkozy agreed to the visit as part of a deal made Tuesday to free six medical workers convicted of infecting hundreds of children in a Libyan hospital with AIDS. For VOA, Anita Elash reports from Paris.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy is meeting Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi in Tripoli to improve relations following the release of six medical workers on Tuesday.

The six were flown from Tripoli to Sofia early on Tuesday at the end of a trip to Libya by Mr. Sarkozy's wife Cecilia and the EU's External Affairs Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner.

Reports say that Mr. Gadhafi invited Mr. Sarkozy to Libya several times during negotiations to free the medical workers. However, the French president said he would only come once they were released.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said the EU could now begin to normalize trade and political ties with Libya.

Mr. Sarkozy describes the trip as a political visit, made possible by the agreement.

He told reporters that, now that the medial workers are free, he wants to look to the future. Mr. Sarkozy says he hopes to sign several accords with the Libyan leader, but did not say in which areas.

News reports say that Mr. Sarkozy could sign agreements on security, immigration, energy and scientific research. And, he wants more support in to stem the flow of illegal immigrants crossing into southern Europe from North Africa.

France hopes to convince Libya to become part of a Mediterranean Union that would unite all countries that border the Mediterranean. Libya also holds huge economic potential, especially because of its oil reserves. Reports from Brussels say that, as part of the EU's incentive package, France offered to build a highway from Libya and Tunisia and pledged to sell arms to Tripoli.

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