Libya ‘seeks arms worth $2bn’
20/10/2008 14:00 – (SA)
Moscow – Libya may agree to buy more than $2bn worth of Russian weapons during a visit by Muammar Gaddafi to Moscow this month, Interfax news agency reported on Monday, citing an unidentified source in Russia’s arms industry.
“An agreement on concluding a major set of arms contracts for more than $2bn could be reached during the visit of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to Moscow,” Interfax quoted the source as saying.
The source said Gaddafi’s visit to Moscow was planned for the end of October. Both the Libyan embassy in Moscow and Russia’s state arms exporter declined immediate comment.
Russian warships visited Libya this month, signalling a warming of ties between Tripoli and Moscow, which supported Libya during the Soviet era.
Libya is interested in buying surface-to-air missile systems such as the S-300, TOR-M1 and Buk, as well as several fighter aircraft, dozens of helicopters and about 50 tanks, Interfax quoted the source as saying.
Russia is also preparing contracts to upgrade Libya’s Soviet-era weapons, the agency said.
Libya wants Moscow to write off $4.5bn in debts it owes to Russia in exchange for the purchases, Interfax said. Many Soviet-era debts are difficult to price because they were set in Soviet roubles.
Libya was seen as a rogue state by Washington until it agreed to give up a weapons of mass destruction programme. Last month US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met Gaddafi in Tripoli, the first such visit in 55 years.
Libya wants to expand ties with Russia, which it sees as a counterbalance to US influence in the Mediterranean region.
Vladimir Putin, while still Russian president, visited Libya in April to strengthen energy ties with the OPEC member and discuss the possibility of Russian co-operation in building an atomic power plant in Libya.
Putin said at the time that Libya was also seeking to buy Russian weapons.
# Libya ‘seeks arms worth $2bn’
Moscow – Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has pitched a tent in a Kremlin garden before talks with Russian leaders on Saturday.
Gaddafi is to meet Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin for talks expected to focus on arms sales and access for Russian energy companies to projects in the North African state.
Located a few metres from the building where Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has his office, the military-style tent was decorated with North African fabrics and a metal barbecue grill has been set up in front, a Reuters reporter said.
A large, flat-screen television was switched on inside the tent.
Gaddafi, who was born to a Bedouin herdsman in a tent in 1942, frequently greets foreign visitors in a tent next to the ruins of his Tripoli residence, which was destroyed in a bombing raid by US aircraft in 1986.
On a visit to Paris last year for talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Gaddafi pitched his tent in the garden of the presidential guesthouse.
Russia is used to accommodating the foibles of visiting heads of state.
In 2001, the Kremlin laid on a massive logistical operation so North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il, who diplomats say has an aversion to air travel, could make the nine-day journey to Moscow on board his armoured train.
Thank you for sending this report to me. The news of resumed Russian arms sales to Libya dovetails quite well with other reports that Libya’s Khadafi is flying to Moscow and offering the Russian a naval base on Libyan soil (see my recent posting on this subject at the Gog-Magog blog). Libya’s brief friendship with the West appears to be ending as it moves back toward an alliance with Russia. This was predicted In Ezekiel 38:5.