Tripoli, March 20: Portugal’s foreign minister Paulo Portas left Tripoli on Tuesday afternoon after a short two-day visit. It was his second trip to Libya since becoming foreign minister last June. He was in Benghazi last September.
During this latest visit, he again met NTC chairman Mustafa Abdul Jalil as well as Foreign Minister Ashour Ben Khayal, Deputy Finance Minister Mraja Al-Gaith and the Governor of the Central Bank, Saddek Elkaber. He also had what Portugal’s Ambassador in Libya, Rui Lopes Aleixo, described as “a very interesting” meeting with the Forum of Libya Women, a leading Libyan NGO.
According to the NTC website, the Portuguese minister offered his country’s help with with the elections, the training of Libyan diplomats and in institution-building within the military and security organisations.
The delegation accompanying Portas included the vice president of Portuguese Agency for Foreign Investment as well as a number of Portuguese journalists.
The visit, according to Lopes Aleixo, was“very successful”.
There are a number of Portuguese companies operating in Libya but prior to the revolution, the volume of Libyan imports from Portugal was small; the trade was mainly Libyan oil exports to Portugal. According to the ambassador, Portugal hopes to expand its exports to Libya to bring about a more balanced trade relationship.
Portugal is a member of the Security Council and was one of the members that voted last year in favour of the no-fly zone over Libya. It also has the chairmanship of the UN sanctions committee on Libya.
As well as being Portugal’s foreign minister, Portas is also its deputy prime minister. He leads the country’s Christian Democrat Party, one of the parties in the coalition governing the country, following June’s general elections. [/restrict]