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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Qaddafi holds talks with Medvedev, Putin in Moscow

RIA Novosti

01/11/2008 20:45 MOSCOW, November 1 (RIA Novosti) - Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi held separate talks in Moscow on Saturday with Russia's president and prime minister.

At his meeting with President Dmitry Medvedev, Qaddafi, accompanied by a large delegation "to increase investment and business cooperation in various spheres," said "the door to enhancing cooperation in civilian spheres was open to Russia."

Medvedev said at the opening of the meeting that he was certain the talks would "boost friendly ties" between Russia and Libya.

The Libyan leader told Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin later in the day he expected progress in bilateral ties would have "a positive effect on the international situation and the geopolitical balance of power."

Qaddafi, 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," Qaddafi 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 defense missile systems, as well as warships and small arms. Now the outdated equipment desperately needs modernizing.

A Russian business daily quoted on Friday a source close to the preparations for Qaddafi's visit as saying that the Libyan leader 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 Qaddafi," the Kommersant paper said.

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