News / Africa

Russia, Libya Sign $1.8 Billion Arms Deal

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin says Moscow has agreed to sell Libya weapons in a $1.8 billion deal.

Mr. Putin made the announcement Saturday while meeting with the head of Izhmash, a major Russian gun manufacturer.

He said the contract was signed Friday, and covers both small arms and more complex weapons.

Russia's Interfax news agency had quoted a "military diplomatic source" as saying Libya was ready to buy about 20 fighter planes from Moscow, as well as air defense systems and several dozen tanks.

Libyan Defense Minister Major General Younis Jaber met with officials in Moscow earlier this week.

The deal with Libya follows a report by Russia's state-owned arms export monopoly claiming overseas sales of military equipment rose 10 percent in 2009.

The head of Rosoboronexports, Anatoly Isaikin, told reporters that military contracts totaled $15 billion last year, driven higher by deals with Saudi Arabia, Libya and Venezuela.

Last year, Venezuela reported arms deals with Russia worth more than $2 billion, including the purchases of 92 (T-92) tanks and an S-300 surface-to-air missile system.

Isaikin said that the prospects for new sales to Saudi Arabia were also good.

Some information for this report provided by AP and Reuters.

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