Amid Thaw, Gadhafi Visits Italy for 1st Time

Libyan leader will meet Berlusconi, 700 most powerful women
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jun 10, 2009 1:15 PM CDT
Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, left, and Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi review a honor guard upon his arrival at Rome's Ciampino military airport, Wednesday, June 10, 2009. Gadhafi is on a three-day...   (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
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(Newser) – Today marks the start of Moammar Gadhafi’s first visit to Italy since he took over Libya in 1969—and the trip “promises to be as colorful as it is historic,” notes Richard Owen in the Times of London. That’s thanks in part to his 300-member entourage and his plan to meet with 700 Italian women in the upper echelons of “politics, industry, and culture.”

Libya holds that Gadhafi is “an emancipator of women,” noting an increased proportion of female workers in the country since he took power. The trip comes amid increasing contact between Gadhafi’s country and Italy, which controlled Libya until 1943 and killed or imprisoned thousands; Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi offered an apology and nearly $5 billion last year in hopes of lucrative contracts.