Tripoli, 5 May:
Niger’s Prime Minister Brigi Rafini made a surprise visit to Tripoli on Friday, to meet with NTC chairman Mustafa . . .[restrict]Abdul Jalil. It is reported that the two sides negotiated a number of issues, notably border security, the restoration of normal relations and the fate of Saadi Qaddafi.
Relations have been strained over Niger’s decision, first, to provide sanctuary to Saadi and then over its refusal to accede to two Libyan demands that it hand him over.
In February, NTC leader Mustafa Abdul Jalil said that relations could never be normalised with neighbouring countries while they refused to hand over major Qaddafi regime figures.
Niger then warned its citizens not to travel to Libya, claiming that there had been a number of attacks against them in the country.
In March, however Jalil announced that only the current lack of an extradition treaty was hindering efforts to have Saadi handed over by the Niger government.
“We have talked with the Niger authorities about the extradition of Saadi Qaddafi and a number of his associates, and they are willing to hand him over. But unfortunately no extradition treaty exists between us,” he said at the time. However, he disclosed that ministerial talks were under way between the two countries to put such a treaty in place.
Yesterday, he said that the Libyan-Nigerien relations on close bonds of tribal kinship and links that overlapped the two countries’ borders. Protecting and securing those borders, however, was in the interests of both states. He also said there was a duty to ensure a decent standard of living for residents of the common border region and help development there.
There was no mention, however, of an extradition treaty. Jalil simply renewed his call for the government of Niger to immediately hand over Saadi and other members of the former regime.
For his part, Rafini spoke of Niger’s solidarity with Libya and its support for the revolution. Stability in Libya meant stability in Niger, he said.
He said the two countries needed to cooperate on development and set up joint projects between the two countries. He called on Libya to address the situation of some Nigeriens in jail in Libya, accused of committing crimes.
In the evening he attended a dinner hosted by Libyan Prime Minister Abdurrahim Al-Kib as as well as the ministers of economy, higher education, labour, transportation, and local government, members of the NTC, and other officials.