Malta’s embassy in Tripoli will start issuing visas again from today, a step that Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi yesterday described as an important one for Maltese and Libyan business interests.

The embassy will be one of the first to resume services, a Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman said. Over the past few months some embassy functions were being performed by local staff but the offices were closed and a liaison office was opened in Benghazi in July. Visa processing was moved temporarily to Tunisia.

“Now we are taking it back to Tripoli, the most important ingredient for businesses, both ways,” Dr Gonzi said.

In the meantime, the Armed Forces of Malta yesterday dispatched a team aboard a patrol boat whose job it is to facilitate the reopening of the Tripoli embassy. The team includes members of the Explosives Ordinance Disposal Unit which will scan the offices for any unexploded ammunition or explosive devices before the reopening today.

The embassy will be temporarily headed by first secretary Nader Salem Rizzo. Malta also plans to officially open a consulate in Benghazi.

Asked about the risk of opening the embassy while fighting was still going on even in the outskirts of Tripoli, Dr Gonzi said: “We are always facing risks and the risks are calculated risks. But now we are the stage where the calculated risk has to be taken both in the best interest of Maltese business and also as a message of confidence in the Libyan people.”

He said the situation in Libya was still fluid and needed time to settle. “A new transitional government will be set in the coming days but in the meantime, the fighting continues so the situation there remains unstable. Malta’s role as a humanitarian hub will continue being a very important one,” he insisted.

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