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In an attempt to bolster Libya's struggling economy, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi invited foreigners Thursday to invest in his socialist country and assured them their businesses would be protected.

"You are welcome to invest in Libya," Gadhafi said at an investment conference in Tripoli attended by European, Asian and African businessmen. "We have laws that protect investments."

It was the first such meeting in Libya in 30 years. International sanctions were lifted in April after Libya handed over two suspects in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103.

In recent weeks, Libya has been pursuing European investment, and Libyan delegations have traveled to Europe to promote their country as a tourist destination.

Gadhafi's appearance at the two-day conference, which began Thursday, aimed to emphasize that the campaign to open up the Libyan economy had his personal seal of approval.

However, Gadhafi warned he would not allow investors to pursue the "exploitative" strategies that he said triggered the financial crisis in Asia in 1997.

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