Libya and Italy are set to reach a deal soon to compensate for Italy’s three-decade colonial rule. The deal, said to be worth billions, was announced by Saif al Islam, the influential so of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. “In the next weeks, Libya will sign a deal with Italy on compensation for the colonial period. This deal … amounts to billions,” Said told an official gathering in Tripoli. The accord involves multiple projects, including a motorway across Libya, education resourced, and the clearing of mines dating back to the colonial era. Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi said that he hopes this friendship treaty could be signed by the end of August.
A son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi is mediating in the case of two Austrians held by al Qaeda in north Africa and believes a release could come within hours, an Austrian politician said on Saturday. Saif al-Islam, who heads the Gaddafi Foundation charity, was in touch with the kidnappers in Mali, a spokesman for Carinthia governor Joerg Haider told Reuters. “Our information from Libya is that the negotiations in Mali have reached a decisive phase and … in the next few hours there could be a decision in this matter … a release,” the spokesman quoted Haider as saying. But he said it could take longer. “It could be tomorrow or the next day,” he said. The mediation of Gaddafi’s son, who has studied in Austria and is a friend of right-wing populist Haider, raised some hopes for the release of the two Austrian tourists who were seized in Tunisia last month and are reported to be held in northern Mali. Austrian foreign ministry spokesman Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal said a meeting of the crisis team dealing with the hostages on Saturday evening had not been informed of any imminent release. “The crisis team has had no indication of that kind of dramatic development,” he told Reuters. Tiemoko Diallo repots.