TRIPOLI (AFP) - Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini sought to rebuild Romes close ties with Libya on a visit to Tripoli Friday, saying Italy was ready to unfreeze vast sums of Libyan funds and resume key energy projects. Libyas colonial ruler from 1911 until World War II, Italy was a close ally and economic partner of the country under ex-strongman Muammer Gaddafi and is keen to continue playing a leading role here. Speaking at a press conference with the interim prime minister in the National Transitional Council (NTC), Mahmud Jibril, Frattini said a key first step would be for Italy to release about 2.5 billion euros ($3.36 billion) in Libyan funds frozen under Gaddafi. We already got authorisation to unfreeze 2.5 billion euros depending on the request and priorities of the (NTC), he said, adding that a delegation of Italian banking experts would arrive in Tripoli next week to work out the details of releasing the funds. Noting that Italian energy giant ENI had already resumed some work in the country, Frattini said he expected the Greenstream pipeline which carries Libyan natural gas across the Mediterranean to Italy and was shut down in February to resume operating by the end of October. Frattini also dismissed claims that Italy had been too close to Gaddafi and not done enough to support the revolution against his 42-year rule. Italy was the second country in Europe to recognise the NTC and the third country around the world, he said. Jibril hailed Frattinis visit, the first by a senior Italian official since the NTC took control of Tripoli in late August, as a reflection of the strategic and historic ties between our two countries.