07 MAR 2011
By Andrew Rettman (EU diplomat in Tripoli says situation looks 'almost calm'
EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - An EU fact-finding mission has landed in Tripoli and met with Libyan and EU diplomats to discuss the safety of EU citizens still in war-torn Libya.
Agostino Miozzo, EU foreign relations chief Catherine Ashton's right-hand-man on crisis management, told EUobserver by phone from the Italian embassy in Tripoli on Monday morning (7 March): "The situation is relatively calm, quiet. There was no shooting during the night. Traffic is almost calm and there are people around. The only sign of crisis is at the airport, where there are 2,000 or 3,000 Africans waiting to go back to their countries."
Mr Miozzo said he met on Sunday with ambassadors from the eight EU countries whose envoys have not yet left and with a senior diplomat from Gaddafi's foreign ministry.
"We had a long conversation with him, stressing the need to support the safe departure of European and non-European citizens from the country," he noted. "He said he is ready to welcome back all the European diplomats who have left."
"We don't have an EU ambassador here. So we had to come and see with our own eyes and hear with our own ears what is going on," he added, estimating that another 200 EU citizens still want to get out while another 1,100-or-so aim to stay put.
Mr Miozzo, a former Italian aid official, said the Italian government provided an official jet and security support for himself and the three other EU officials in his delegation. The EU team got visas from the Libyan embassy in Brussels and plans to go back to the EU capital later on Monday.
It will not go outside the capital, which has seen violent protests but no heavy-fighting in recent days.
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