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French lawmakers boycott Libyan leader's talk

Col. Moammar Gadhafi told French lawmakers on Tuesday that the era of national liberation movements was over and that he wanted a future without “cold or hot wars.”
Image: Libyan leader Gaddafi arrives at the National Assembly in Paris
Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi arrives at the National Assembly in Paris before meeting Tuesday with lawmakers from France's lower house of parliament.Christophe Ena / Pool via Reuter
/ Source: The Associated Press

Col. Moammar Gadhafi told French lawmakers on Tuesday that the era of national liberation movements was over and that he wanted a future without “cold or hot wars.”

On the second day of Gadhafi’s six-day visit to France, about 30 of the 80 lawmakers invited to hear the long-shunned Libyan leader showed up for his speech in the grounds of the French National Assembly.

“We have ended the era of the Cold War, of national liberation movements, of the fight against colonialism. We are in a new era that we hope will be without cold or hot wars,” said Gadhafi, who was for decades a vocal champion of armed struggle and a supporter of terrorism.

At a parliamentary session later, the Socialists left their benches for 20 minutes to protest a refusal to allow them to publicly question the government on the Gadhafi visit.

President Nicolas Sarkozy is the first Western leader to offer an official visit since Gadhafi’s falling-out with the West in the 1980s.

On Monday, France and Libya signed some $14.7 billion in contracts.

“Libya has become a client like any other,” presidential spokesman David Martinon told LCI television.

Libya was ostracized by years of U.N. sanctions for sponsoring terrorism. But the oil-rich North African country started moving back into the international fold with its 2003 decision to dismantle its nuclear arms program.

Sarkozy defended the official visit, saying it was France’s duty to encourage states that move toward international respectability. He alluded to Gadhafi’s formal renunciation of terrorism and his decision to dismantle a Libyan program meant to develop atomic bombs.

But the presence of the Libyan leader has triggered strong opposition.

Opposition from all across the spectrum
Rival Socialists, centrists and even some members of Sarkozy’s conservative party decried the Libyan leader’s parliamentary visit.

Gadhafi’s place “is not at the National Assembly,” said conservative lawmaker Herve Mariton.

“The National Assembly is not just any place,” said Socialist group leader Jean-Marc Ayrault. It is “part of a long tradition of human rights.”

Riot police chased away a score of protesters in front of the National Assembly.

During his speech, Gadhafi appealed for a “single democratic state” uniting Israelis and Palestinians as the only viable solution for the region.

“It is not possible to create two states in the region,” Gadhafi said, appearing to dismiss the long-standing Palestinian demand for a state.

Palestinians and Israelis, he said, “are integrated on the terrain, it is not feasible to separate them.” He said international efforts should “converge to create a single state.”

Following Gadhafi’s meeting with Sarkozy on Monday, two Libyan airlines announced a deal to buy 21 Airbus planes. The value of the deal was not immediately given, but one of Gadhafi’s sons was quoted by Le Figaro newspaper as saying it was worth $4.4 billion.

Both sides also signed an accord to develop one or more civilian nuclear reactors. The reactors would be used to desalinate sea water or exploit Libya’s uranium riches, Sarkozy’s office said.