Italy considering freeing up frozen Libyan funds: FM
Italy is considering freeing up some of the Libyan assets it has frozen, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said on Wednesday.
Frattini told local newswire MTI in Pannonhalma, a small town in western Hungary, that his country wanted to stay on as Libya's top trading partner after the ousting of Muammar Gaddafi, whose whereabouts are still unknown, Xinhua reported.
Frattini said that Libya was essentially a wealthy country and did not need financial support during the transition period, but that until it gets its oil production back online it could use the assets frozen by foreign banks when the fighting broke out.
What Libya does need from Europe, he said, was political support in building its democratic institutions, setting up a police force, establishing a secure health care system and jump-starting its economy.
Frattini pointed out that Italy has long-standing cultural ties with Libya, its one-time colony, and it plans to offer scholarships to Libyan students.
Frattini, who is in Hungary to attend a meeting of Hungarian and Austrian diplomats, also said that Italy had prepared a new 45 billion euro belt-tightening package to cut his country's debt that he expected to see adopted by parliament shortly. He also predicted spending cuts to reduce Italy's deficit.