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Foreign press welcome in Libya: Gaddafi son

The son of Libyan leader Moamer Gaddafi on Thursday said foreign journalists were welcome to enter the country, a day after a senior official said those who entered without permission would be considered outlaws.

world Updated: Feb 24, 2011 20:23 IST

The son of Libyan leader Moamer Gaddafi on Thursday said foreign journalists were welcome to enter the country, a day after a senior official said those who entered without permission would be considered outlaws.

"We say to the world that we have opened the country to journalists from all over the world," Seif al-Islam said in remarks on his Allibiya television channel reported by state news agency Jana.

He said journalists and diplomats were welcome to verify for themselves what he said were false reports that air strikes had targeted protesters against his father's 41-year rule.

Al-Jazeera television had claimed that there had been air strikes in the capital Tripoli. The younger Gaddafi denied that on Monday, saying any bombing had been on targets removed from inhabited areas.

Yesterday, Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Kaim said news teams from CNN, Al-Arabiya and BBC Arabic had been allowed in. He said any other journalists who had entered the country had done so illegally and would be considered as Al-Qaeda collaborators.

Kaim said the regime would not be held responsible for the safety of such reporters, who risked arrest unless they presented themselves to the authorities.

His remarks were echoed on Thursday by the US State Department.

"In meetings with senior Libyan government officials, US diplomats were told that some members of CNN, BBC Arabic and Al Arabiya would be allowed into the country to report on the current situation," a statement said.

"These same senior officials also said that some reporters had entered the country illegally and that the Libyan government now considered these reporters Al-Qaeda collaborators."