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Africa

Libyan labour minister defects as Merkel, Obama meet

media Barack Obama welcomes Angela Merkel to the White House - Libya is on the … Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

Libyan Labour Minister al-Amin Manfur announced his defection at the annual meeting of the International Labour Organisation in Geneva, Libya's UN mission said on Tuesday, as Nato pounded Tripoli and a Russian mediator visited Benghazi.

An official at the Libyan representation confirmed a report in Switzerland's official media Swissinfo on the minister's defection.

THE BATTLE FOR LIBYA

Envoys at the mission collectively announced their defection in February.

The EU decided Tuesday to add six ports controlled by Moamer Kadhafi’s forces, to a list of entities hit with an asset freeze.

The six ports were not immediately identified, but a spokeswoman for EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton said they were each "Kadhafi-controlled ports".

President Dmitry Medvedev's envoy Mikhail Margelov met rebels in their stronghold, Benghazi, on a mediation mission, as a number of explosions hit Tripoli in an area close to Kadhafi’s residence.

And US President Barack Obama welcomed German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the White House for talks that will cover the Western intervention in Libya among other points of disagreement between their two countries.

These include critcism by Berlin of some of the monetary and fiscal measure taken by the US government and Federal Reserve to revive the US economy after the recent global crisis.

Merkel arrives in the US amid a crisis in Germany over an outbreak of a deadly E coli bacteria that prompted US officials to inspect all imports of cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuces from Germany and Spain.

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