NEWS

No secret Libya talks, says Athens

The Foreign Ministry denied on Friday that Greek diplomats had held any secret talks with Libyan officials with the aim of agreeing to use some of Colonel Muammar Gadhafi?s seized assets as collateral to facilitate the supply of aid to both sides in the North African country?s civil war.

A British daily newspaper, The Independent, reported that the Libyan regime has been negotiating a secret deal with Greece to use $20 billion of its funds that are frozen abroad for humanitarian relief.

The newspaper claimed talks were held in Tripoli between a team led by a former diplomat close to Prime Minister George Papandreou and regime members including Libyan Prime Minister Al Baghdadi Ali al-Mahmudi.

The meetings reportedly resulted in a memorandum of understanding that has remained unsigned because the French government warned Athens this would give Gadhafi legitimacy and undermine the policy of the Western coalition to keep him isolated.

The Greek Foreign Ministry said that the report did not ?reflect reality.? However, it did admit that the Libya Contact Group, which consists of six international organizations and 22 countries, including Greece, has discussed the issue of making use of Gadhafi?s assets abroad.

?As is known, discussions have been under way within the framework of of the Libya Contact Group on the issue of supplying humanitarian aid for the Libyan people by using the Libyan regime?s seized assets,? the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. ?Yesterday?s meeting of the Contact Group in Abu Dhabi saw significant progress in this direction.?

?Greece, along with its partners and allies, is actively involved in the effort to find a political solution to the Libyan crisis and has stated its readiness to embark on initiatives with this aim and to supply humanitarian aid to the Libyan people,? the Foreign Ministry said.