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Key Economic Data 
 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
GDP
Millions of US $ 19,131     71
     
GNI per capita
 US $ n/a n/a
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

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Update No: 047 - (01/11/07)

Libya's Diplomatic Whirlwind
Although Libya's international rehabilitation owes much to its coveted crude oil resources, the country's leader, Col. Qadhafi, has been cultivating the image of diplomatic broker trying to resolve some of Africa's worse crises. In a sense this is the flip side of the coin he played in the 1970's and 1980's, when Libya helped foment rebel movements and freedom fighters of all stripes. The shift effectively began as Qadhafi started to focus more on African unity, and less on the prospects for an Arab one, in the late 1990's, proclaiming his desire to help establish a United States of Africa. However, Libya's new role made its grand appearance on the world stage when it played a key role in negotiations with rebels of the Abu Sayyaf group, who were holding western hostages in a jungle on the Philippine island of Jolo in April 2000. Reports suggested Qadhafi paid $1m for each released hostage, but both Libya and the Philippines deny that any ransom has been paid. Libya had been closely involved in negotiations with the rebels and the Qadhafi Foundation, headed by Seif-ul Islam Qadhafi, offered development aid to the region in exchange for the hostages. While sometimes forgotten, the Philippine hostage negotiation was Qadhafi's first real attempt to reopen links with the world in a positive manner, even as the Lockerbie trial got underway. Since then, Libya has sponsored a variety of talks to resolve international crises, but none so important - at least from the public relations standpoint - as the UN and African Union-backed talks for peace in Darfur that started at the end of October in Sirte. 

Darfur
From Libya's perspective, the outcome of the talks are less important than the fact that Qadhafi is seen as a promoter of peace and a leader who is actively involved in helping to resolve humanitarian crises (that also happen to draw considerable attention in the West). Only six of Darfur's rebel factions are attending the talks in Libya, which as Qadhafi himself has acknowledged, will not lead to any progress. The Libyan leader criticized the international intervention in Darfur, noting that the local population should be left alone to find a solution and that the crisis does not constitute a threat to international peace and security. Yet Libya emerges as an important diplomatic broker for African crises. In the past Libyan meddling in the continent involved overt challenges to African governments by way of financial and arms backing for rebel groups (Libya is said to have played a role in wars involving Liberia and Sierra Leone in the 1990's), whereas now, Libya is re-invented as the continent's main promoter of peace. The Darfur peace process has been deadlocked since the Abuja meeting, as other rebel groups had refused the Abuja peace agreement, claiming that it did not meet all their demands. The US president's special envoy in the Sudan, Andrew Natsios, arrived in Libya to attend the peace talks on the Sudanese Western region of Darfur, which began on October 27. Natsios said that the United States fully supported Libya's efforts and key roles to restore peace in Darfur. Natsios also acknowledged Libya's efforts noting that it hosted two previous international meetings in April and July all aimed at restoring peace in Darfur. While, Libya's diplomatic ambitions in Africa started before the reconciliation with the 'international community', there appears to be a strong desire on the part of Qadhafi to truly change his image, not just with western governments and oil companies, but with the ordinary people of these countries, such as to imply that he is in search of a positive legacy. No doubt, efforts to bring peace to Darfur also offer Libya a further means to ingratiate itself to the United States - in addition to oil. 

France (via Chad)
Indeed, if Sudan and Darfur are of concern to the United States, Libya has also been actively cultivating its relationship to France by playing a constructive role in helping to resolve an longstanding internal conflict in the former French colony, the central African country of Chad. Just before the Darfur peace conference began, the Libyan leader hosted talks to curb the rebellion in Chad, securing a peace agreement that brought together the presidents of Chad and Sudan. Insurgent groups accused of being backed by Sudan, have fought a rebellion against Chadian President Idriss Deby, for years in fighting related to the Darfur conflict. This is all the more noteworthy as Libya had intervened militarily and directly in Chadian internal disputes on four occasions: ( in 1978, 1979, 1980-1981 and 1983-1987). In all of these occasions Libya had allies among factions participating in the civil war, while Libya's opponents found the support of the French government, which intervened militarily to save the Chadian government. 
The Chad effort, which would certainly facilitate France's role in Chad (given that it has troops and plans to supply peacekeepers to the area) may also be part of the growing ties to France, highlighted by the Bulgarian nurses deal last summer in which French president Sarkozy (and now ex-wife Cecilia) played at the end, an important role. To this effect, various French sources have indicated that Qadhafi would visit Paris next December, sometime before or after a European Union-Africa summit in Lisbon on December 8-9. Sarkozy's office confirmed a visit was being arranged but did not give a precise date. The trip is very important (and somewhat embarrassing for Italy, as Qadhafi has not yet visited Italy - the former colonial power - which was expected to take a frontline role in spearheading Libya's diplomatic re-integration in Europe). Sarkozy signed a defence accord and a memorandum of understanding for a nuclear energy deal during his July trip. Libya is also rumoured to be ready to purchase French anti-tank missiles and radio systems from European aerospace and defence group EADS - which has faced some goverment scrutiny over allegations that the arms deal was a trade-off for the release of the Bulgarian medics. While Qadhafi is in search of improved weapons and prestige, France sees Libya as an important potential growth market for many companies. Le Journal du Dimanche said important French business deals could be signed during Qadhafi's visit to Paris. As anticipated, France will likely sign a deal to maintain 15 Mirage F1 fighter planes currently used by the Libyan air force, and might try to sell Libya the Rafale combat jet. Both planes are made by French group Dassault Aviation. Libya and France might discuss nuclear energy and water treatment or direct Libyan investment in leading French companies (for years the Libyan government had almost 15% of Fiat shares in Italy through its investment arm LAFICO). Sarkozy and Qadhafi are also likely to discuss Sarkozy's proposal for a Mediterranean Union. 

Finally, if Africa were not enough of a concern, Libya has also hosted an international peace conference to help resolve the inter-religious conflict in South-East Asia in Tripoli. The conference was organized by the Qadhafi Foundation for Development and aims to promote peaceful relations between Muslims and Buddhists in Asia, especially in Thailand. The conference is discussing conflicts and tensions in the Asian region, religion and politics, culture, co-existence, Islamist and Buddhist concepts and the role of religious hierarchies in containing hotspots. Thai religious leaders, the Dean of the International Economic Management Academy in Macati City, in the Philippines, the Chairman of the Buddhism Foundation, the Chairman of the Islamic Social and Economic Development Foundation as well as the Chairman of the Islamic Foundation in Thailand attended the conference. 

Energy News
Eni SpA said it has reached a wide-ranging agreement with Libya's National Oil Corporation (NOC) to increase Eni's gas and oil production. Eni and NOC have renewed production contracts, extending their expiry to 2042 for oil and to 2047 for gas, and to invest USD 28 billion in oil and gas projects over ten years. Eni and NOC will start drilling in areas close to existing oil fields and use CO2 injection and water alternate gas technologies to maximize the production of existing oil fields - presumably to extract heavier oil. Eni and NOC will expand the export capacity of the Mellitah hub to 16 billion cubic meters of gas per year from 8 billion. Eni is still the largest foreign operator in the country with a total average daily production of about 250,000 barrels of oil.   

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