Brown asks Gaddafi to intervene over abducted child

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Prime Minister Gordon Brown today asked Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to intervene in the case of a British child abducted by her Libyan father and taken to his country.

Britain is seeking the repatriation of six-year-old Nadia Fawzi, who was taken from her mother Sarah Taylor, of Wigan, in 2007.

Mr Brown raised her case when the two leaders met at the G8 summit in L'Aquila, Italy today, and told Colonel Gaddafi that it remained the case that Britain wanted Nadia to be returned to the UK to be reunited with her mother.

Gaddafi undertook to look into the case and see what he could do as soon as possible, said a Downing Street spokesman.

Mr Brown and Col Gaddafi met ahead of talks between the G8 states - Britain, the US, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Canada and Russia - and African leaders on measures to improve food security in the world's poorest countries.

The G8 are later today expected to promise $15bn (£9.2bn) in aid for agriculture and food infrastructure.

Today's meeting is the first time Mr Brown has met Col Gaddafi, who was an international pariah for years following the Lockerbie bombing, for which Libya was blamed.

His predecessor Tony Blair famously flew to Libya in 2004 to meet Gaddafi in his desert tent after he had given up his weapons of mass destruction capability and accepted responsibility.

Mr Brown reiterated his "admiration and gratitude" for Col Gaddafi's "brave" decision to scrap WMD programmes in 2003.

In an apparent reference to Iran and North Korea, Mr Brown said that in the context of a nuclear non-proliferation summit called by US President Barack Obama for spring 2010, it would be necessary to try to persuade other countries to follow Libya's example.

During their 40-minute discussion, the two leaders talked about the current volatility in oil prices - which recently hit $75 a barrel.

They agreed on the need to maintain close dialogue between the major oil-consuming countries and producers like Libya, as well as the need for greater transparency in the oil markets.

Col Gaddafi raised the case of Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, who is appealing against his conviction and seeking return to Libya, but Mr Brown said that it was a matter for the Scottish Government.

Mr Brown also raised the case of Wpc Yvonne Fletcher, who was shot dead outside the Libyan embassy in 1984. No one has been convicted for her murder, though the Libyan government has accepted that its agents were responsible.

Mr Brown and Col Gaddafi had a long discussion on Africa and their "strongly shared view" that the continent needs better representation in international institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, said Downing Street.

The Prime Minister made the point that Africa was not responsible for the current global recession and should be protected from its consequences.

This was not the time for rich nations to retreat from their commitments to assist the poorest, said Mr Brown.

He offered British help in developing Libya's healthcare system, which Col Gaddafi accepted.

A Downing Street spokesman said: "Throughout the conversation, there was agreement that the relationship between the UK and Libya was a strong relationship and had grown significantly since 2003 and that it would grow stronger still in the years to come."

Col Gaddafi, who is attending the summit in his role as president of the African Union, met Barack Obama last night and enjoyed his first handshake with a US president since his long years of isolation.

Mr Brown has already pledged to devote $1.8bn (£1.1bn) of Britain's international aid to agriculture, and hopes other G8 leaders will make similar promises today as part of a drive to make Africa self-sufficient in food.

The global downturn has led to a sharp increase in food shortages, with the numbers of chronically hungry estimated to be growing at a rate of around 275,000 a day throughout 2008.

The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation has called for an additional $30bn (£18.4bn) per year investment in agriculture and rural infrastructure, on top of emergency food aid.

Development charity ActionAid estimates that around $23bn (£14bn) of this will have to come from the G8, with Britain needing to more than treble its donations from $600m (£370 million) to $1.87bn (£1.14 billion) by 2012.