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Libyan Leader Hopes to Boost Energy Ties With Russia


Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi - in his first visit to post-Soviet Russia - says he hopes to boost energy cooperation with Moscow.

Mr. Gadhafi says cooperation between the two countries in the oil and gas sector is very important at this time. He says Libya and Russia have common oil and gas policies.

The Libyan leader spoke as he opened talks Saturday in the Kremlin with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev. Mr. Gadhafi is expected to meet later with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Russian media say a deal on supplying more than $2 billion worth of arms to Libya may be signed during Mr. Gadhafi's three-day stay in Russia.

The media also say Mr. Gadhafi is likely to offer Russia a base for its navy in the Libyan port of Benghazi.

A Russian newspaper, the Vedomosti business daily, recently quoted an official in Russia's state-run arms sales firm as saying contracts for fighter planes, tanks and surface-to-air missile systems have been discussed.

Earlier this month, Russian warships stopped at the Libyan port of Tripoli on their way to the Western Hemisphere for joint exercises with Venezuela. In April, Russia agreed to cancel Libya's $4.5 billion Soviet-era debt in exchange for contracts between the North African country and Russian firms.

Mr. Gadhafi brought a piece of his homeland in his visit to Russia, setting up a Bedouin tent in the Kremlin gardens. He often hosts guests in the tent, which is decorated with North African fabrics, and is complete with barbecue grill.

The Libyan leader will stop in Belarus and Ukraine before returning home.

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

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