On India’s first high-level ministerial visit to that country, post-democratic system

The world’s largest and newest democracies will meet when Minister of State for External Affairs E. Ahamed arrives in Tripoli on Saturday for the first high-level ministerial visit from India to Libya after the emergence of the democratic system.

During his visit, the Minister has a full agenda to discuss, but the one on top of his mind will be to seek the return of 18,000 Indians who had fled after NATO began aerial bombing of the country while rebels fought against former dictator Muammar Qadhafi’s forces on the ground.

Many of the Indians were doctors and paramedics and while their return will need some cajoling, the tougher aspect will be to convince Tripoli to restore the property and assets of the 2,000 Indians who were into business and trading.

Mr. Ahamed’s mission will be facilitated by the fact that both the Libyan President and Prime Minister have an India connection. President Mohammad Yousef Al-Magarief had served as the Libyan Ambassador here from 1978-81 and Prime Minister Ali Zeidan studied in the Jawaharlal Nehru University besides working briefly with the Libyan mission.

Politically too, India played its cards right. It abstained from voting on the infamous United National Security Council Resolution 1973. Also, while Libya was undergoing a transitional phase, New Delhi recognised the National Transitional Council and participated in the London, Istanbul and Paris conferences.

Mr. Ahamed will also be travelling to the neighbouring Algeria.

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