Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi says relations with Italy have entered a new era.
Speaking on his first visit to Libya’s former colonial power, Gaddafi said the history of hatred and destruction during Italy’s 30-year-rule had been replaced by a culture of friendship and cooperation.
But the wounds still run deep – Gaddafi arrived for the meeting in Rome with the photo of a Libyan national hero killed by the Italian colonial authorities pinned to his uniform.
But there seemed to be no hard feelings – the countries have long had good ties, sealed with a 3.5 billion euro compensation deal last August.
Campaigners have protested against Gaddafi’s visit, criticising Libya’s human rights record. The Libyan leader was due to make a speech in the Italian Senate later today, but it has been moved to a palazzo next door after protests from opposition politicians.
The UN, the Vatican and aid organisations have also criticised a new immigration accord between Rome and Tripoli.
They say it deprives migrants of their right to apply for asylum in Italy.