Cairo, 7 June:
Libya has agreed to take 10,000 Egyptian workers to meet the country’s needs according to Egyptian Assistant Foreign Minister . . .[restrict]for Consular Affairs and Egyptians abroad, Ahmed Ragheb. Speaking on Wednesday, he said that the agreement was on a state-to-state basis and would be processed through Egypt’s Labour Ministry. This, he said, was to ensure that the workers were not exploited by labour middlemen.
There have been number of statements in recent months both from Libyan and Egyptian officials about Libya recruiting Egyptian workers. About two-thirds of the 1.5 million who worked in the country before the revolution fled but now want to return. In April, Libyan Labour Minister Mustafa Rujbani was reported in Egypt saying that Libya hoped to recruit a million of them and that they were needed in the agriculture, comnstruction, health care and pharmaceutical sectors.
Last month, however, Foreign Minister Ashour Bin Khayal said that the Libyan economy could not cope with the number of Egyptians wanting to work in the country. Speaking at a Non-Aligned conference in Sharm El Sheikh, he said that Egyptian workers would have a major role in Libya once the economy has stabilised, but not yet. It is not clear if Raghab’s comments represent a change of Libyan heart or were merely a polite representation of Libya’s longer-term expectations.
Speaking on Wednesday, Ragheb also said that the Egyptian-Libyan consular committee had held its first meeting since the revolutions in both countries and had focused in particular on the need to re-impose law and order on both sides of the border and crack down on smuggling, in particular the smuggling of arms into Egypt. Considerable numbers of weapons from Libya, mostly heading for Sinai and then to Gaza, have been seized by the Egyptian authorities in recent months.
The committee had agreed to set up a joint security committee. Its task would be to establish ways to stop the smuggling.
Ragheb also noted that Libya had again demanded the handover of Qaddafi regime officials hiding in Egypt. He said that there was agreement in principal but that full files on wanted persons were needed and the legality of handing them over had to be studied. This would be the focal point in discussions between the two countries’ Ministries of Justice he said. [/restrict]