Gaddafi offers to host Russian naval base

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi is in Moscow with an offer to host a naval base in his country, the daily Kommersant has reported. The paper said the move would provide Libya with a 'guarantee of non-aggression' from the United States.


MOSCOW - Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, starting his first
visit to post-Soviet Russia on Friday, will discuss opening a
Russian naval base in Libya to counterbalance U.S. interests in
the region, a paper reported.

Gaddafi, who last visited then Soviet Russia in 1985, is
expected to discuss purchases of Russian arms and energy
cooperation during his three-day visit.

The business daily Kommersant, quoting a source involved in
preparing Gaddafi's visit, said "the colonel has saved the good
news for his visit which will mollify the Kremlin's resentment"
at a lack of deals with post-sanctions Libya.

"During these talks the colonel intends to raise the issue
of opening a base for Russia's navy in the Libyan port of
Benghazi," the paper wrote.

"In line with the Libyan leader's plan, Russia's military
presence will become a guarantee of non-aggression from the
United States which, despite numerous conciliatory gestures, is
not in a hurry to embrace Colonel Gaddafi."

Last month, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met
Gaddafi in Libya, the first such visit in 55 years, in a move
symbolising the end of years of enmity.

Russia, enjoying an unprecedented economic boom, is keen to
project its renewed power, and a flotilla of Russian warships
led by a nuclear-powered missile cruiser made a stopover off
Libya this month on its way to Venezuela to take part in joint
naval exercises.

Libya has also hosted a Russian frigate sent to fight piracy
in the Gulf of Aden.

Russian media have reported that Gaddafi may be looking to
buy more than $2 billion of Russian arms, and that Moscow may be
looking for energy deals.




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