Swiss hopes for Gaddafi meeting to defuse row

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Switzerland wants to hold a summit with Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to try to defuse a row that began a year ago when Gaddafi’s son was arrested in Geneva on assault charges, the Foreign Ministry said.
Swiss media has reported that Gaddafi suggested at a recent G8 summit in Italy that Switzerland was a “terrorist state” and “mafia” that should be dismantled and split up between Germany, France and Italy.
Hans-Rudolf Merz, the Swiss finance minister who holds the rotating Swiss presidency, is prepared to meet Gaddafi soon, Swiss Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jean-Philippe Jutzi said.
“We are still waiting for the possibility to organise a meeting between Merz and Gaddafi that we hope will lead to unblocking the situation. We await a signal,” he told Reuters.
Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey was quoted this week as saying that the two countries were “two millimetres” away from a deal.
The diplomatic row began when Hannibal Gaddafi and his pregnant wife Aline were arrested in a Geneva luxury hotel in July 2008 on charges of mistreating two domestic employees.
Geneva’s prosecutor dropped the case after the plaintiffs withdrew their formal complaint after reaching a settlement. Libya has sued authorities for more than 500 000 Swiss francs alleging police used disproportionate means during the arrest.
Libya cut back oil supplies to Switzerland and withdrew more than $5 billion (R38 billion) in assets from Swiss banks in 2008, according to Swiss National Bank figures.
The Foreign Ministry spokesperson said that two Swiss nationals are still prevented from leaving Libya, which has not granted them exit visas. He named one as Max Goeldi, director of ABB Ltd in Tripoli, but declined to identify the other man.
“We do not consider them as hostages but they are forbidden from leaving the country and are being held against their will,” Jutzi said.