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Libyan leader to discuss arms deals during visit to Russia


Deliveries of Russian air defense systems, combat aircraft and warships will be among the key issues to be discussed during the upcoming visit to Moscow of Libya's president, a senior official said on Friday.

Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi will pay an official visit to Russia at the invitation of President Dmitry Medvedev from October 31 to November 2.

"Russia and Libya share a long history of close cooperation [in the military-technical sphere]. We will pay particular attention to the modernization of weaponry which was delivered to Libya during the Soviet era," said Mikhail Dmitriyev, head of the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation.

"Among the new types of weaponry, Libya is interested in purchasing air defense systems, combat aircraft and warships," he added.

Libya used to be one of the key buyers of Soviet arms with estimated deliveries worth $20 billion. Moscow supplied Tripoli with about 300 combat aircraft, up to 4,000 tanks, dozens of air defense missile systems, warships and small arms. At present the outdated equipment desperately needs modernizing.

The lifting of sanctions in 2003, imposed on Libya by the UN in the early 1990s over its suspected terror links, reopened a promising arms market for Russia, estimated at $11 billion.

According to open sources, Libya's armed forces are 90% equipped with Russian weaponry.

Libya needs to modernize its fleet of outdated MiG-21, MiG-23, MiG-25, Su-17 and Su-24 aircraft. The country also needs to upgrade 60 S-125 Pechora air defense missile systems or replace them with either S-300PMU-2 or Tor-M1 systems.

In addition, the North African country has expressed interest in Russia's newest Project 20382 corvette and Project 636 diesel-electric submarines.

Russia's Vedomosti business daily said last week that Libyan arms deals worth more than $2 billion could be signed during Qaddafi's visit.

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