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Libya's Gadhafi Makes First Visit to Italy


Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi is in Rome at the start of a three-day visit to Italy Wednesday, a trip that demonstrates the recent improvement of ties between the two countries.

The Libyan leader meets first with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano ahead of talks with Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Mr. Gadhafi is staying in a tent erected in Rome's Villa Pamphili park.

Last year, Italy agreed to pay Libya $5 billion to compensate for decades of Italian occupation during the first half of the 20th century.

In return, Libya agreed to crack down on the thousands of illegal migrants who travel from Africa to Europe each year. International rights groups have criticized the policy under which Italy has repatriated migrants who have been intercepted before reaching Italian shores.

Relations between Libya and the West have improved in recent years, since Tripoli announced it was abandoning efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction.

Mr. Gadhafi has plans to meet with a group of Italian Jews who were expelled from Libya in an anti-Jewish backlash after Israel's victory in the 1967 Six-Day War.

Jewish leaders are expected to press the Libyan leader on the fate of a Palestinian man, Osama al-Zomar, convicted in absentia in Italy for a 1982 attack on a Rome synagogue. A two-year old boy was killed. The Palestinian was arrested in Greece but authorities there denied an Italian extradition request and instead deported him to Libya.

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