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Gadhafi Wraps Up Visit to France

By Lisa Bryant
15 December 2007

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi wrapped up a visit to France Saturday that fulfilled all expectations of sparking controversy. Lisa Bryant reports from Paris.

Mr. Gadhafi got the red carpet treatment from French President Nicolas Sarkozy during his five-day visit here. The Libyan leader was the featured guest at a state dinner. The Libyan and French leaders also signed a number of contracts worth billions of dollars.

Mr. Gadhafi's presence in Paris generated controversy as well. The tent he pitched outside the official presidential guest-house drew sharp public attention. So did his remarks. The Libyan leader said Mr. Sarkozy did not bring up human rights issues - contradicting the French President.

Meanwhile, his past reputation as a supporter of terrorism stirred outcry and anger at the French government for inviting him in the first place. A Bulgarian doctor who had been imprisoned in Libya over allegations of spreading the AIDS virus to children filed a lawsuit against the Libyan leader in Paris.

Even two of Mr. Sarkozy's ministers criticized the Libyan leader - including Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner. That, in turn, elicited a sharp reply by Libyan Foreign Minister Abdelrahman Chalgam.

At a news conference Friday, Foreign minister Chalgam says he wonders how Kouchner - who previously visited Libya and dined with Libyan officials - could have changed rhetoric now.

Kouchner later seemed to tone down his remarks, telling French lawmakers Paris needed to welcome countries like Libya that had renounced terrorism and wanted to join the international community.

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