Libyan leader Gaddafi invites Russian investment, business

November 2nd, 2008 - 12:39 pm ICT by IANS  

Moscow, Nov 2 (RIA Novosti) Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has said his government is keen to expand cooperation with Russia beyond the military and political sphere into trade and commerce and invited Russian investment and business to his country.Gaddafi, on a visit to Russia, Saturday met President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin separately and assured them that “the door to enhancing cooperation in civilian spheres is open to Russia.”

The Libyan leader told Putin later he expected progress in bilateral ties would have “a positive effect on the international situation and the geopolitical balance of power.”

Gaddafi, who has ruled the oil and gas-rich African state since 1969, last visited the Russian capital in 1985, before the breakup of the Soviet Union.

“Unfortunately, [bilateral] relations in the past were mostly limited to military and political contacts,” Gaddafi said.

Libya was one of the key buyers of Soviet arms with estimated deliveries worth $20 billion.

In the Soviet-era, Moscow supplied Tripoli with about 300 combat aircraft, up to 4,000 tanks and dozens of air defence missile systems, as well as warships and small arms. Now the outdated equipment desperately needs modernizing.

A Russian business daily Friday quoted a Libyan source as saying that Gaddafi would raise the issue of a possible Russian naval base in Libya during his three-day visit to Moscow.

“The Libyan leader believes that a Russian military presence in the country would prevent possible attacks by the United States, which despite numerous Libyan attempts to amend bilateral relations, is not in a hurry to embrace Colonel Gaddafi,” the Kommersant paper said.

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