Tripoli, 15 May 2013:
Ali Zeidan returned to Benghazi today after an overnight visit to Cairo where he discussed economic cooperation with . . .[restrict]Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and Prime Minister Hisham Qandil.
According to an official at the Libyan Prime Ministry, the talks focussed on a number of economic areas, including the involvement of Egyptian companies in construction and infrastructure projects urgently needed at present as well as two-way investment and the possibility of setting up a cross border free trade zone from Torbuk to the Egyptian town of El Alamein.
The Egyptian media said the talks also covered border security and the position of Egyptian workers in Libya, particularly the problem with illegal workers. Just over a fortnight ago, the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that more than 4,000 Egyptians had entered Libya illegally so far this year. They were said to be arriving in Libya with forged visas, work contracts and health certificates. Some, an official said, even managed to get in without passports or any papers at all.
It is reported that over 100 Egyptians are being expelled daily from Libya.
A border security deal covering illegal immigration as well as human trafficking, weapons smuggling and illegal fishing was signed last last month when the Egyptian Chief of Staff General Sedki Sobhi was in Tripoli.
The issue of Qaddaf-Adam, Qaddafi’s leading aid and cousin whose extradition from Egypt is being sought on corruption charges, is also thought to have been discussed in Tuesday evening’s talks although late last month, Zeidan said that the relations with Egypt were much bigger than getting him extradited.
Qaddaf-Adam was in court for the first time in Cairo on Monday to face charges of attempted murder, resisting arrest and illegal weapons possession. He and his body guards are alleged to have shot at two policemen in March when they arrived to detain him in relation to the extradition moves. He denied the charges, accusing Egypt of selling him to Egypt in return for Libyan support for its shaky economy, in particular the transfer of $2 billion to Egypt’s Central Bank.
Monday’s proceedings were adjourned and due to resume today.
Zeidan’s visit to Egypt has drawn criticism in Libya with people wanting to know what was so important that he should go there during the present political difficulties. The provision of the $2 billion, which is now being described by the government as an “investment” rather than a “loan” is also hugely unpopular with the Libyan public. [/restrict]