BELGIUM: LIBYAN LEADER MUAMMAR GADDAFI MAKES HISTORIC VISIT TO EU HEADQUARTERS IN BRUSSELS
- Title: BELGIUM: LIBYAN LEADER MUAMMAR GADDAFI MAKES HISTORIC VISIT TO EU HEADQUARTERS IN BRUSSELS
- Date: 27th April 2004
- Summary: (W4) BRUSSELS, BELGIUM (APRIL 27, 2004) (REUTERS) MV: AL-AFRIQIYA AIRLINER TAXIING ON TARMAC AT ABELAG AIRPORT. MLV: LIBYAN PRESIDENT MUAMMAR GADDAFI STEPPING OUT OF PLANE SURROUNDED BY HIS FEMALE BODYGUARDS. MLV: GADDAFI MET BY OFFICIALS.
- Reuters ID: LVACQVCLF4PY3TX4PJU7LO6E6VPC
- Location: BRUSSELS, BELGIUM
- Country: Belgium
- Duration: 00:00:21
- Topics: International Relations
- Story Text: Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi makes an historic visit to Belgium and calls upon world leaders to discard weapons of mass destruction.
In a further step out of diplomatic isolation, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi sought admission to the European Union's Euro-Mediterranean partnership with his first visit to EU headquarters on Tuesday (April 27).
The ground-breaking trip -- Gaddafi's first to Europe since 1989 -- is a further reward for Libya's agreement to pay compensation for the Lockerbie and UTA airliner bombings and for its spectacular abandonment of weapons of mass destruction.
European Commission President Romano Prodi gave Gaddafi a red-carpet welcome and the Libyan leader will meet the entire EU executive, as well as Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt.
During the reception at the European Commission headquarters, an over-enthusiastic supporter of Gaddafi, dressed as a security guard, caused a scare when his hero arrived.
Wearing an earpiece and lapel badge, the man approached Gaddafi from behind as the Libyan leader was shaking hands with Prodi and tried to hand him a letter.
Apparently fearing an attack by a dissident, Belgian security men hustled him away as he shouted "Gaddafi, Gaddafi", "God is with you" and waved the letter in front of massed cameras.
The man, who gave his name as Khalid al-Moutaani, said he was the head of a Brussels-based Arab-African Immigrant Child Support Committee and wanted to present a letter supporting the European Union's opening to Libya, long an international pariah.
Waving portraits of Gaddafi, more than 200 singing and dancing supporters organised by the Arab-African Immigrant Child Support Committee, staged a colourful pro-Libyan demonstration outside the European Commission building.
They sang 'Gaddafi - President' and held banners reading 'Gaddafi - The Architect of African Union'.
Close by, a smaller group of about 50 Libyan exiles staged a human rights protest, chanting "Gaddafi - terrorist" or "dictator" and holding a banner proclaiming
"Gaddafi is a wolf in sheep's clothing".
"We are here today to protest against this visit. All the humanity, all the international society knows that he is a dictator. He is a dictator and he killed a lot of people in Libya," demonstrator Abdel Salam told Reuters.
Police kept the two groups apart.
The Libyan leader is expected to submit an application to join the EU's Euro-Mediterranean partnership, a trade, aid and culture pact linking the wealthy European bloc with 11 southern and eastern Mediterranean neighbours, including Israel.
Libya cast off more than a decade of international ostracism last year when it accepted responsibility and began to pay compensation for the mid-air bombings over Scotland and Niger in 1988 and 1989.
It has since renounced nuclear, biological and chemical weapons and cooperated fully with the United States and the U.N. nuclear watchdog in dismantling its clandestine arms programmes.
But Germany is still demanding compensation for the 1986 bombing of a Berlin nightclub frequented by U.S.
Sofia wants the release of six Bulgarian medics detained in Libya since 1999 on charges of deliberately infecting 426 children with the HIV virus.
A Libyan court verdict on them is due on May 6, just as Euro-Mediterranean foreign ministers will be meeting in Dublin.
"I salute the resolution by Libya on several issues, with some member states and the bold moves taken in recent months under the leadership of colonel Gaddafi on weapons of mass destruction, and in this way Libya has gained respect in Europe and in the world. Quick and fair settlements of other open issues, notably with Germany and Bulgaria, must be found. I have listened carefully to colonel Gaddafi's remarks on this issue today, and fully confident that we will see in the next few weeks satisfactory solutions," European Commission President Romano Prodi said at a news conference.
"So I would like to seize the opportunity today and declare before you, the European commission, and in the presence of my dear brother, Mister president Romano Prodi, that Libya is determined and committed to play a leading roll in achieving world peace," Gaddadi told journalists.
"Libya calls all over the countries from America to China to discard and get rid of all weapons of mass destruction,"
On Tuesday evening, Gaddafi arrived at the Palais d'Egmont for an official reception by the Belgian government.
Welcomed by Prime Minister Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt and a guard of honour, he was later due to meet other cabinet ministers, including foreign minister Louis Michel, before a gala dinner.
On Wednesday (April 28), Gaddafi will meet with Belgian businessmen before another reception, this time at the parliament. Gaddafi is due to leave Belgium on Wednesday afternoon.
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