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Russian President Putin Arrives in Libya for Working Visit


Russian President Vladimir Putin has arrived in Libya for talks with the country's leader, Moammar Gadhafi.

Russian officials say the sides will discuss energy and arms contracts, as well as sign a political declaration and an accord on investment guarantees.

Mr. Putin's visit to Libya comes as one of his final trips abroad ahead of the end of his term May 7, when Dmitri Medvedev will assume Russia's presidency.

Russian Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin says Libyan state debt owed to Russia totals some $4.6 billion.

Last year, Libya awarded Russia's state-run Gazprom energy monopoly rights to explore in gas fields in the North African country.

Western countries have expressed concern about apparent Russian efforts to unite Libya and other natural-gas-supplying nations into an OPEC-style cartel.

Libya, long criticized in the West for state-sponsored terrorism, has been seeking reconciliation with Europe and the United States since renouncing terrorism and nuclear weapons in 2003.

Western governments began lifting sanctions against Libya a year later.

Mr. Putin will head to the Italian island of Sardinia Thursday to meet with the country's conservative leader, Silvio Berlusconi, who emerged victorious in this week's parliamentary elections.

Russian officials say the two are expected to discuss Russian-Italian cooperation and prospects for its further development.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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