World News

Libya suspends issuing visas to Europeans

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Libya has suspended the issuing of entry visas to European citizens apart from British nationals, an official at the country’s main international airport said on Monday.

Asked by Reuters to confirm reports of the move, the official, who did not want to be identified, said: “This is right. This decision has been taken. No visas for Europeans, except Britain.”

No explanation was given for the suspension, and there was no immediate confirmation from the Libyan government.

Italy’s foreign ministry confirmed the measure and said it was in retaliation for Switzerland’s recent decision to publish a blacklist of 180 Libyans banned from entering the country.

Libya has been locked for months in a diplomatic row with Switzerland over the prosecution of two Swiss businessmen who had been working in the North African country.

“The Libyan response to the Swiss decision has affected all the countries of the Schengen zone,” said a spokesman for the Italian foreign ministry. “Contacts are under way between the countries of the zone to coordinate over this measure.”

Libya’s Oea newspaper, which has close ties to a son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, earlier reported that Libya would stop issuing visas to citizens of countries in the Schengen area, which includes non-EU member Switzerland.

Reporting by Ali Shuaib; Writing by Christian Lowe; Editing by Mark Trevelyan