Libya offers to host Russian military base
RUSSIA: Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi, who visits Moscow Friday for
the first time since 1985, will offer to host a Russian naval base in
his north African country, a Russian newspaper reported.
"Libya is ready to host a Russian naval military base," the
Kommersant reported, citing a source close to the preparations for
Kadhafi's first visit here since the days of the Soviet Union.
The base could be located at the port of Benghazi, the source said.
"The Russian military presence will be a guarantee of non-aggression
against Libya from the United States, which is not in a hurry to embrace
Kadhafi despite gestures of reconciliation," the newspaper said.
Kashafi's offer could also "ease the Kremlin's dissatisfaction" over
his failure to fulfill agreements reached in April during a landmark
visit to Tripoli by then-president Vladimir Putin, Kommersant said.
During the visit, Moscow agreed to cancel billions of dollars of
Libyan Soviet-era debt in exchange for major contracts with Russian
Those agreements included a promise by Tripoli to buy Russian arms,
but "despite the agreement, Kadhafi still has not bought a single tank
or airplane," Kommersant reported.
Russia was also disappointed that energy-rich Libya did not agree to
join a "gas OPEC" along with fellow gas exporter Qatar, Kommersant said.
Kadhafi is scheduled to visit Russia from Friday to Sunday.
Relations between Russia and Libya, a former pariah state that has
pushed to get back into the international fold in recent years, showed
signs of significant warming this year after a long chill.
Earlier this month, a Russian warship docked in Tripoli as part of a
global show of force that is to include joint naval exercises between
Russia and Venezuela in the Caribbean in November.
In April, Russian gas giant Gazprom signed a cooperation agreement
with Libya's national energy company while Russia's rail monopoly signed
a 2.2-billion-euro contract to build a railway line in Libya.
Libya bought many of its weapons from Moscow during the Cold War.