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Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi will pay his first visit to Russia
Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi will pay his first visit to Russia in more than 20 years in late October, a Russian business daily said on Monday, citing a Foreign Ministry source.

Vedomosti said deals to supply arms to Libya worth more than $2 billion could be signed during Qaddafi's visit.

Qaddafi, who has ruled the oil and gas-rich African state since 1969, will arrive in Moscow on October 31, the paper said. He last visited the Russian capital in 1985, before the breakup of the Soviet Union.

The paper said, referring to an official in the Russian Technology Corporation, that contracts had been discussed on the supply of 16 SU-30 MKI Flanker-H multirole fighters, T-90 tanks, and TOR-M2E air defense systems to Libya.

Libya's Soviet-era $4.6 billion debt was written off in exchange for a range of new contracts, the largest of which was a deal worth some $3 billion under which the Russian railroad monopoly is to build a 554-km (344-mile) railroad in Libya. The deal was signed when the then president and current prime minister, Vladimir Putin, visited the country in April 2008.

Russian energy giant Gazprom, the Libyan national oil company, and the Libyan African Investment Fund have also signed memorandums to set up joint ventures to launch production in Libya and other African states, the paper said.

The leaders of Britain, Italy and France have also visited Libya since the United Nations lifted sanctions against the state in 2003 after Tripoli took responsibility for the 1988 bombing of a PanAm plane above Scotland and pledged to pay compensation to the victims' families.

Libya possesses considerable reserves of oil and gas, but the sector remains relatively undeveloped. The country is also a lucrative arms market.


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