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Italian foreign ministermeets with new leaders

TRIPOLI — Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi visited Libya last week for high-level talks with the first elected authorities since the overthrow of dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

Mr. Terzi met with Mohammed Megaryef, head of the National Assembly, and Ali Zeidan, the acting prime minister.

“We intend to develop with the new Libya, through this government, an even closer relationship, particularly on the political, security and economic front,” Mr. Terzi told journalists in Tripoli.

The talks touched on business opportunities for Italian companies, notably in the construction and energy sectors, boosting cultural exchanges between the two nations, and increasing visas for Libyans wishing to go to Italy, he said.

Mr. Zeidan expressed his country’s commitment to maintaining tight ties with Italy and vowed that Libya, a former Italian colony, will no longer be a “jihadist state that exports deviant ideologies.”

In September, Italy expelled two Libyans accused of spreading jihadist ideas.

Mr. Zeidan said his Cabinet will be sworn in this week and take office shortly after that.

Mr. Terzi’s visit came a day after a criminal court in Rome ordered the release of more than $1 billion in Libyan assets frozen since March.

From wire dispatches and staff reports