Revolutionary Leader Muammar Qaddafi arrived in Egypt on 24 May for talks with President Mubarak. Qadaffi’s visit is openended and the leader was still in Egypt on 29 May. The two leaders discussed the alleged underground chemical weapons plant near Tripoli. Gaddafi claimed that US photographs of the plant were faked, reiterating his stance that the site is part of an irrigation project. During his visit, Qaddafi also called for a union between Libya, Egypt and Sudan. Libya and Sudan already have a unity agreement, but little practical progress has been made. On 29 May, the two leaders held a joint news conference during which they discussed the issue of Palestinian expulsions from Libya. Qadaffi gave no indication that he would reconsider the deportation of 30,000 Palestinians, which was suspended for six months in October 1995.

 

The lengthy visit to Egypt shows a marked improvement in relations between the two countries.

 

The government says it will invest $1,700 million until 2000 to rehabilitate its tourism infrastructure. ‘Last year, Libya had 85,000 tourists. In 1994, it was 80,000. Every person who comes brings back two more and by the year 2000, we expect to have 1.5 million visitors,’ General Tourism Board director Mohamed Bulhol told Reuters on 16 May. According to official figures, the government expects to earn $3 million from tourism in 1996.

 

Revolutionary Leader Muammar Qaddafi is looking at ways to develop anti-missile weapons in response to threats by the US, the official Jana news agency reports. ‘We must think about how to face the nuclear bomb.

 

Our concern is how to respond to aggression, how to face a nuclear attack,’ Qaddafi was quoted as saying on 19 May. He said that by having to concentrate on defence projects, the government would be forced to ‘abandon’ investment in other sectors. The US has ruled out the use of nuclear weapons, but has said it would consider using conventional weapons to prevent the completion of what it calls a huge chemical weapons complex under the Tarhuna mountains. Qaddafi has consistently denied that the site is a chemical weapons complex and says it is part of the great manmade river project. He has denied access to the site to any US inspectors (MEED 17:5:96).