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Libya and Malta discuss joint oil exploration

A long-standing issue between Libya and Malta over oil exploration in disputed waters could be decided by the autumn following talks in Tripoli Wednesday.

Libyan leader Moamar Gaddafi held a meeting with Maltese President Eddie Fenech Adami to try to strike a long-awaited deal. After the meeting, Maltese officials told reporters in Tripoli that there was a “commitment” for political decisions to be taken on this issue and that a joint commission is due to meet in October.

Malta has been seeking an agreement for joint exploration in the Mediterranean sea, on the lines of a similar agreement with Tunisia. The tension came to a head in the 1980s, when a Libyan gunboat stopped an Italian oil rig commissioned by Malta from drilling in the Medina Bank, one of the disputed areas. That issue was later decided by the International Court of Justice, but the ruling did not cover the delineation of other areas of the continental shelf between the two countries.

Other issues discussed by Malta and Libya Wednesday included illegal immigration, in particular better coordination in the search and rescue areas of the two countries. Malta and Italy have accused Libya of not doing enough to stem the flow of illegal immigrants. (m&