Switzerland lifts Libya travel ban after EU pressure

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Switzerland lifts Libya travel ban after EU pressure

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Switzerland has been persuaded to lift its travel ban against top-level Libyan politicians after talks in Brussels.

Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey told the EU’s chief diplomat, Catherine Ashton, that she hoped Libya would respond by ending its visa restrictions.

A row between the two countries erupted when Libya subsequently barred entry to travellers from Switzerland and the border-free Schengen area, which encompasses most of the 27-member European Union.

Switzerland said Wednesday that it remained committed to securing the release of a Swiss businessman, Max Goeldi, who is serving a four-month jail term in Tripoli for breaching immigration law.

At the heart of the dispute is the arrest of Goeldi and a colleague while they were working in Libya. One was shortly released but Goeldi is still being held.

His arrest followed the detention in Geneva of the Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi’s son, on charges of beating two of his housekeepers.

Although he was soon released, Tripoli immediately cut oil supplies to Switzerland, withdrew millions of dollars from Swiss bank accounts and barred entry to its citizens and 24 other Schengen nations.