Libya open to enter port management partnerships-minister

TRIPOLI Tue Jan 17, 2012 12:29pm EST

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TRIPOLI Jan 17 (Reuters) - Libya is open to discuss partnerships with international firms to manage its seaports, the country's transport minister said on Tuesday after receiving a visit from the chairman of Dubai-based ports operator DP World .

"We do need to have to share the experience of others in the form of strategic partners, especially in managing seaports," Minister of Transport, Yousef El Uheshi, told reporters after meeting with a large delegation of government and business visitors from the United Arab Emirates.

"I am open to talk with anybody who can conclude a fair agreement between the concerned parties. We have to tighten our home first and then we can go ahead."

He said the Libyan interim government was not likely to strike partnership deals but would rather lay the groundwork for an elected government.

"We don't want to start from scratch. We want them (elected government) to start from where we stopped," he said.

A 200-member national assembly is expected to be elected in June to draft the country's constitution and form a second caretaker government. It is expected to take at least a year before a normal government is in place.

Uheshi said it would take years before the Libyan government could fully privatise the management of seaports.

"It's too early to talk about the full privatisation," he said. "We start with the strategic partner now which I think will serve us in the coming 10 or 15 years, later on we will see how we go."

Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, chairman of DP World, said the international ports operator has long been interested in Libya.

"We are interested in Libyan ports and we've been in touch with them in the past. And now that there is a new government in Libya we want to know what the Libyan side wants so we can prepare ourselves to cooperate with them." (Editing by Greg Mahlich)

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