Putin to Meet Libyan Premier

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his Libyan counterpart, al-Baghdadi Ali al-Mahmoudi, will meet in Moscow on Thursday for talks likely to center on Russia's hopes of rich contracts, including a share in a planned pipeline taking Libyan gas to Europe.

Libya, a major oil and gas exporter, has become an attractive market for both Russia and the West since 2003, when the United Nations Security Council lifted sanctions against the country viewed for decades as a pariah by Western countries.

A Russian government spokesman said Putin and al-Mahmoudi would discuss "coordination of efforts to carry out agreements reached at the April summit in Tripoli."

Then-President Putin and Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi oversaw in April the signing of a deal under which Moscow agreed to cancel $4.5 billion of Tripoli's debt in exchange for a promise of lucrative contracts for Russian firms.

During the Tripoli summit, Gazprom showed interest in taking part in the construction of a new gas pipeline linking Libya and Europe. It has not given details of the proposed volumes or timing.