EU: Pay billions or be swamped by black Africans, warns Gadaffi

Rome, 31 August (AKI) - The European Union must pay 5 billion dollars annually to stem the tide of illegal immigrants departing from Libya's shores - otherwise Europe could be become an African outpost, Libyan leader Muammar Gadaffi has claimed.

Gadaffi made the provocative remarks during a two-day visit to the Italian capital, Rome to mark the second anniversary of a controversial bilateral 'friendship' pact.

"Libya, with Italy's support, asks the EU to provide at least 5 billion dollars a year to stop illegal immigration, otherwise Europe could one day become part of Africa - it could become black, because millions want to come here," Gadaffi said.

He made the remarks during a speech at a gala dinner in Rome late on Monday hosted by Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi and attended by 800 people.

Guests at the 'iftar' feast to break the Ramadan fast included several cabinet ministers and the heads of Italy's main business association Confindustria, its largest defence and aerospace company Finmeccanica and energy giant ENI.

"Libya is a gateway for illegal immigration and so we need to work together to combat this phenomenon," Gadaffi added.

Earlier during his visit, Gadaffi drew criticism from the EU and Catholics for telling hundreds of young women he invited to hear him speak that he hoped Islam would become the 27-member bloc's religion.

Under the friendship pact, Italy's conservative government agreed pay Libya some 5 billion dollars (4 billion euros) in reparations for transgressions committed during three decades of Italian colonial rule over the North African nation from 1911-1943.

The money will mostly be invested in infrastructure projects, including a new 2,700 kilometre highway across Libya from Tunisia to Egypt.

Italy also provided several coastal patrol boats to intercept vessels transporting illegal immigrants to Italian shores, as part of a controversial agreement to turn back immigrants in the Mediterranean.

Italy is Libya's largest trading partner and it is Gadaffi's fourth visit in two years.


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