Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi has lashed out at the United States by likening the 1986 U.S. Strikes on Libya to Osama bin Laden's terror attacks on the United States in 2001. He was speaking Thursday in Rome, where he is on a three-day official visit.
In a speech to Italian lawmakers, Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi urged the world to understand the reasons that motivate terrorists. He called for dialogue with terrorists, saying, "One must talk to the devil, if it brings about a solution."
While condemning al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden, he implied there was little difference between bin Laden's terror attacks and the U.S. strike on Tripoli and Benghazi in 1986. He added that the West should not interfere in the governments chosen by other countries.
The United States ordered airs strikes on Tripoli and Benghazi after an attack on a disco in Germany killed three people, including two U.S. servicemen.
Mr. Gadhafi, who came to power following a 1969 coup, had long been ostracized by the West for sponsoring terrorism, but in recent years sought to emerge from his status by abandoning weapons of mass destruction and renouncing terrorism in 2003.
Libya has since agreed to pay compensation to the families of the Berlin disco victims as well as the families of the victims of the 1988 Pan Am 103 bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland that killed 270 people, including 189 Americans.
Colonel Gadhafi, who arrived Wednesday in Rome on a three-day official visit, was to have addressed lawmakers in the Italian Senate. But he was forced to give his speech at another building after opposition leaders voiced strong criticism at giving him such a rare honor.
Mr. Gadhafi's first trip to Libya's former colonial ruler is being seen as an open acknowledgment the two nations have put their past behind them and are ready to forge closer ties.
Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said Mr. Gadhafi's visit is an event that symbolizes the definitive change in relations between Italy and Libya. These relations, he said, have been difficult for many years due to a colonial past that left feelings of pain in the Libyan people.
The Libyan leader said Italy is the only former colonial state today that cannot be reprimanded any more.
Colonel Gadhafi has pitched his bedouin tent in Rome's largest public park, Villa Doria Pamphili, where he is is receiving a large number of visitors. He is traveling with a 300-person delegation and a large group of female bodyguards.
His visit was made possible by a friendship and cooperation treaty signed in August 2008, which provided for Italy to invest $5 billion in Libya to make up for its 30-year occupation of the North African country.
The Libyan leader will return to Italy in July in his role as head of the African Union to take part in the summit of the Group of Eight industrialized nations, scheduled to be held at a military academy in quake-stricken L'Aquila.