GENEVA, Nov. 4 (Xinhua) -- The Swiss government announced on Wednesday that it was suspending a deal aimed at normalizing relations with Libya due to the North African country's "refusal" to cooperate in the case of two Swiss businessmen held there.
The decision was prompted by Libya's "systematic refusal" to cooperate with Switzerland in the case of two Swiss businessmen who have been prevented from leaving the country for more than a year, the official Swissinfo.ch news website quoted a government statement as saying.
In the statement, the Swiss government said that the two businessmen had been "abducted in violation of international law", and it is not known where they are currently being held.
"The Libyan authorities are refusing all visiting rights," it added.
It also said that the government would continue its "restrictive visa policy" toward Libyan nationals wishing to come to Switzerland.
The diplomatic row between Switzerland and Libya was triggered by the brief detention of a son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, Hannibal, and his pregnant wife in Geneva last year. The couple was arrested by Geneva police for allegedly abusing their servants while staying at a luxury hotel.
Tripoli retaliated for Hannibal's arrest by closing Swiss businesses in Libya, withdrawing assets from Swiss banks and cutting off flights between the two countries. And the two Swiss businessmen were arrested on charges that they had violated visa regulations.
Swiss President Hans-Rudolf Merz went to Tripoli in August and apologized for Hannibal's arrest. He also signed an agreement with the Libyan government to normalize relations. However, the deadline for its terms to be met elapsed on Oct. 20, according to the Swissinfo.ch report.