[This is the headline over a Reuters report on the XE website. It reads as follows:]
The United States and Libya signed a trade agreement on Thursday underlining their switch from decades-long hostility to lucrative business ties.
US companies lagged their European rivals in entering the Libyan market after international sanctions on Tripoli were lifted in 2004. Washington is now striving to catch up.
Under the agreement, a joint council will be set up to handle issues including market access and intellectual property, and Washington will help Libya with its application to join the World Trade Organisation (WTO), officials said.
'The importance of this agreement is to build trust,' Libyan Trade Minister Mohamed Hweji told Reuters.
Christopher Wilson, Assistant US Trade Representative for Europe and the Middle East, was in the Libyan capital to sign the agreement.
'We want to see the numbers grow in terms of both trade and investment,' he told reporters. 'We are looking forward to creating the best conditions to do that.'
US aircraft bombed oil exporter Libya in 1986, killing more than 40 people. Washington accused Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi of supporting armed militants and trying to acquire weapons of mass destruction.
Relations were restored after Gaddafi renounced banned weapons programmes and agreed to pay compensation to the families of those killed in the 1988 bombing of a US airliner over the Scottish town of Lockerbie.
In 2003, the United States exported $200,000 worth of goods to Libya and imported nothing. By 2009, exports to Libya had surged to $666 million and imports to $1.9 billion.
Diplomatic relations between Tripoli and Washington hit a set-back earlier this year when a State Department official made caustic comments about a speech in which Gaddafi had called for a 'jihad' against Switzerland.
US energy companies operating in Libya, including Exxon Mobil and ConocoPhillips were warned their interests could suffer as a result. The row was resolved when the State Department official apologised.