Italy is to pay billions of euros in investments and compensation to Libya for its colonial rule of the north African country. It is hoped the so-called “friendship” pact will remove the last hurdle towards improving ties between the two countries.
Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi signed the deal at a palace which was once the headquarters of the Rome government from 1911 to 1943. Tripoli accuses Italy of killing thousands of Libyans and of driving many more from their homes under its rule.
Under the deal, Italy plans to invest some 135 million euros per year in Libya over the next 25 years. Projects include a massive highway across Libya from the Tunisian border to Egypt, as well as the clearing of mines dating back to the colonial era. Relations between Rome and Tripoli have been strained since Gaddafi took power in 1969, shortly after which he expelled Italian residents and confiscated their property.