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Libya, EU signal obstacles in partner talks

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(TRIPOLI) - Both Libya and the European Union on Wednesday said negotiations on a partnership accord faced obstacles including illegal immigration, trade and investment and the fight against social discrimination.

"We still have problems relating to the readmission of illegal immigrants (turned back by Europe), the battle against discrimination and in the areas of trade and investment," said Hugo Mingarelli, deputy head of the European Commission for foreign affairs.

Libya's Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammed Tahar Sayala told reporters there should be "more flexibility from both parties so the negotiations can proceed."

"There are some topics we have discussed over the seven rounds, and we still have not found a solution," Sayala said after the latest talks between Tripoli and Brussels.

On Tuesday, Libya and the European Union began the seventh round of delicate negotiations on a partnership accord that should be signed later this year.

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

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

On Wednesday, Sayala said the main stumbling blocks to progress were illegal immigration and the International Criminal Court (ICC), which Libya does not recognise.

He said Libya wanted financing and equipment for the surveillance of its borders, both on land and sea.

Mingarelli noted progress in the fields of political dialogue, saying there had been agreement on cooperation over human rights, good governance, judicial reform and the fight against terrorism.

But he also said there was still a long way to go on matters of disagreement between both sides.

EU relations with Libya

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