August 20, 2008 / 10:10 PM / 10 years ago

Libya to sign free trade accord with EU soon: Saif

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Libya will sign a free trade accord with the European Union soon, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s influential son Saif al Islam said on Wednesday.

“We will reach an association accord with the European Union soon to export goods to markets there without tariffs,” Saif told a youth rally in the southern city of Sebha, 800 km (500 miles) from Tripoli.

Saif, whose speech was broadcast live on Libyan state television, said the accord with the EU was a result of the North African country’s improved ties with Europe and the United States since 2003.

“Who would have believed that we would reach such achievements? They are reality now,” added Saif, his father’s most trusted envoy abroad.

Ties between OPEC member Libya and the United States have improved dramatically since 2003, when Libya accepted responsibility for the Lockerbie airliner bombing and said it would stop pursuing nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.

Since then, the United States has dropped many sanctions, removed Libya from a terrorism blacklist and restored diplomatic links after decades of enmity.

Writing by Lamine Ghanmi; editing by Andrew Roche

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