Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said Switzerland's unilateral decision to slap a travel ban on Libyan officials had prompted retaliation by Libya and was a violation of the Schengen agreement that allows travel within 25 European states.
"The Swiss government has put them on the Schengen blacklist. But this is not the Schengen agreement that we know," Frattini said in an interview published in La Stampa newspaper.
"By acting in this way, Switzerland has taken hostage the other countries of the Schengen zone," he said.
Officials said on Monday that Libya had stopped issuing entry visas to the 25 European nations covered by Schengen -- some of which are not in the European Union, such as Switzerland -- in response to a Swiss entry ban on 188 of its citizens, including Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and his family.
The European Union said it deplored the decision by Libya to stop issuing entry visas to the nations in the Schengen visa-free zone.
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