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World Briefing / Italy

Kadafi makes his first visit

June 11, 2009|Times Wire Reports

Libyan leader Moammar Kadafi made his first visit to Libya's former colonial ruler, wearing a provocative reminder of Italy's three-decade occupation pinned to his military uniform: a black-and-white photo of a Libyan national hero killed by Italian authorities.

But Kadafi still received a warm embrace from Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, and the four-day visit was designed to highlight the close political and economic ties between Tripoli and Rome, strengthened by a $5-billion agreement last year in which Italy will compensate Libya for its colonial rule.

Not everyone was as welcoming as Berlusconi. Human rights groups and opposition politicians decried the Libyan strongman's visit, criticizing Libya's human rights record and a recent deal under which Italy sends back immigrants to Libya without checking to see if any have legitimate asylum claims.

Italy ruled Libya from 1911 to 1943.

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