10 June 2009
Colonel Muammar Gaddafi will receive guests in his Bedouin tent during an official visit to Italy next week, his first since becoming Libya's leader in 1969.
Gaddafi, known for taking his tent on official visits, will meet with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano and Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi during his three-day visit. Talks in Rome will focus on Libyan investment in Italian businesses and illegal migration.
According to Italy's La Repubblica, the tent will contain 12 gold-legged armchairs, several couches, neon lights, an electric heater, and large incense burners.
Gaddafi's tent will be set up in the grounds of the Villa Pamphili in Rome, but he will sleep in a newly renovated room of the villa.
Gaddafi, 67, will also meet a group of 700 prominent Italian women from business, politics and culture. He held a similar meeting with 1,000 women in Paris in 2007, during which he told them he wanted to "save European women."
Immigration is an important issue between Italy and Libya, which was an Italian colony for 30 years until the 1969 coup when Gaddafi took power. Soon after the coup, Italians were forced out of the country and the Italian language was effectively banned.
Demonstrations in Rome are planned by Libyan-backed left-winged students in protest against Berlusconi's policy of forcibly repatriating immigrants who try to reach Italy by sea.
Gaddafi will return to Italy next month as part of an African delegation during the G8 summit.