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Libyan envoy says Tripoli seeks deeper ties with Tokyo

Libyan Ambassador to Japan Muftah Faitouri said Tuesday that his country has opened itself to the international community by abandoning its weapons of mass destruction.

He said Libya can now deal with any country. The ambassador said he welcomes Japanese firms’ stepped-up participation in Libya’s infrastructure projects, including those related to crude oil and gas, steel and the water supply.

During a visit to The Japan Times, he said Tripoli desires deeper relations with Japan in the areas of business and investment as well as in politics and culture.

He said Libya envisages a fivefold increase in the foreseeable future in the number of Japanese visitors, including tourists, from the 2,000 seen last year.

As one sign of the thawing relationship between Tokyo and Tripoli since Libya turned its back on weapons of mass destruction, Ichiro Aisawa, senior vice foreign minister, visited Libya in early June as Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s special envoy.

During his stay in Tripoli, Aisawa conferred with Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi for two hours, becoming the first Japanese ranking government official ever to meet with the Libyan leader.

A sub-Cabinet minister-level delegation from Libya will pay a reciprocal visit to Tokyo next week as a sign of the fast-paced improvement in bilateral ties, Faitouri said.

In June, Gadhafi told Aisawa that he wants to visit Japan. In this context, the ambassador said he hopes Koizumi will visit Libya when the time is deemed proper.

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