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Belarus dismisses reports of helicopter sales to Ivory Coast

RIA Novosti

18:09 28/02/2011 MINSK, February 28 (RIA Novosti) - Belarusian authorities denied accusations on Monday that it supplied combat helicopters to Ivory Coast.

The United Nations has accused the former-Soviet country of violating an arms embargo on Ivory Coast by delivering three attack helicopters to forces loyal to incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo, who the organization does not recognize as the true winner of November's presidential elections.

"Accusations spread in the foreign media that Belarus violated a UN arms embargo on Ivory Coast are false and took us completely by surprise," said Vladimir Lavrenyuk, spokesman for the State Military-Industrial Committee.

The UN said the first delivery of military equipment to the war-ravaged African country arrived on Sunday evening and additional flights were scheduled for Monday and Tuesday.

"Belarus has always respected the sanctions and resolutions adopted by the UN Security Council, including those against Ivory Coast," the official said. He added that Belarus has an effective national system of export controls, which meets international standards.

The UN first imposed sanctions on Ivory Coast in 2004 following the end of the country's civil war. Last year's elections split the country again between supporters of Gbagbo and forces loyal to his rival Alassane Ouattara.

The UN warned that the country was again on the brink of civil war after clashes in the main city of Abidjan left dozens dead last week.

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