Libya hires German PR to remake image

TRIPOLI: After a year of searching, the Libyan government has finally landed a PR agency willing to accept the daunting task of improving the nation's tarnished image.

TRIPOLI: After a year of searching, the Libyan government has finally landed a PR agency willing to accept the daunting task of improving the nation's tarnished image.

TRIPOLI: After a year of searching, the Libyan government has finally landed a PR agency willing to accept the daunting task of improving the nation's tarnished image.

The German PR firm Hunzinger Information AG announced on Friday that a team of advisers has created a detailed strategy to help market Libya.

Moritz Hunzinger, chairman of the board of the Frankfurt-based company, confirmed that talks with Tripoli had reached an advanced stage, but said a firm deal had not yet been struck.

Hunzinger criticized media reports which have intimately linked the negotiations with Libyan leader Muammar Gadaffi. 'We are dealing primarily with well-reared Libyan businessmen who live in London and New York,' Hunzinger explained. 'These are good people with whom we've had contact for 12 years now.'

Hunzinger added that Gadaffi's rogue past, including his suspected involvement in the bombing of a Pan Am airliner over Scotland in 1988, has most likely damaged his personal image beyond repair.

According to Hunzinger, the PR campaign will primarily focus on boosting Libyan tourism. The German airline Lufthansa currently has direct flights from Frankfurt to Tripoli.

Hunzinger said he would not sign a contract with Gadaffi until he received approval from the German government, which seems likely. Talks between Hunzinger and the Libyans come when Gadaffi is receiving unprecedented positive publicity in Germany and western Europe. Last month, the Gadaffi International Charity Foundation, managed by Gadaffi's son, helped broker the release of six western hostages from the Philippine island of Jolo.

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's visit to Tripoli in April for the European Union African Summit included a visit and photo opportunity with Gadaffi. Leading members of the ruling Social Democrats have spoken out in favor of normalizing relations with Libya.

Libya isn't Hunzinger's first controversial client. His agency also advises Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel, whose government is currently under European Union sanction for its inclusion of the far-right Freedom Party in the ruling coalition.



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