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Spain's PM 'Ready to do Business with Libya' - 2003-09-18

Libya rolled out the red carpet for Spain's prime minister, the first western head of state in more than a decade to set foot in the country. Jose Maria Aznar, says he is ready to do business with Tripoli.

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar called Libya an important trading partner, and vowed to strengthen investment and commercial ties between the two countries.

The prime minister is the first western head of state to visit Libya since 1992, following the imposition of U.N. sanctions against Libya for its role in the 1988 Pan Am airliner bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland.

Those sanctions were lifted, after Libya agreed last month to pay $2.7 billion to the families of the victims of the Lockerbie bombing.

Mr. Aznar said Spanish companies are ready to invest in Libya, and added Tripoli was opening its doors for foreign investment, especially in areas such as agriculture, electricity, and oil.

While other European countries are also expected to renew economic and political ties with Tripoli, the State Department still lists Libya as a sponsor of terrorist groups, and Washington has said its sanctions policy will remain.