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Libya-EU partnership talks resume

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(TRIPOLI) - Libya and the European Union on Tuesday began the seventh round of delicate negotiations on a partnership accord that should be signed later this year, an EU delegation member said.

The EU, which officially launched partnership talks with Tripoli in November 2008, hopes to sign a framework accord before the end of 2010, the source told AFP said on condition of anonymity.

The two sides are due to sign a first "national indicative agreement" covering the period between 2011 and 2013 and defining the areas for future cooperation and financing.

The official JANA news agency said three working groups were formed on Tuesday, with political dialogue, culture and education, and economy and trade among the topics to be addressed.

The European delegation was headed by Hugo Mingarelli, deputy head of the European Commission for foreign affairs.

The EU had initially hoped to complete the framework accord in 2009, but negotiations hit snags, notably on the issue of illegal immigration, with the European Commission pressing Tripoli to sign the Geneva convention on refugees.

The diplomatic crisis between Libya and Switzerland over the brief arrest in Geneva of a son of Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi in July 2008 has also clouded Libya-EU relations, prompting tit-for-tat visa bans on each others' citizens that was only lifted in March.

EU relations with Libya

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