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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Putin Accepts Gadhafi's Invitation to Visit Libya




President Vladimir Putin agreed Monday to visit Libya and was quoted as urging the United Nations to finally lift sanctions against the country.


The foreign ministers of both countries proclaimed a new era of improved ties, including in the military sphere.


Putin's acceptance of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's invitation follows his visit this month to North Korea and talks in Moscow with the deputy prime minister of Iraq f two other Soviet-era allies mistrusted by the West.


"The invitation has been gratefully accepted. The timing of the visit will be determined through diplomatic channels," said Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov at a joint news conference with Libyan counterpart Abdel Rahman Shalgam, who earlier met Putin.


"This marks the beginning of the restoration of long-term friendly relations that have always linked our two countries," Shalgam said in Arabic through a translator.


Ivanov said military and technical cooperation were among spheres to be developed.


Libya has been emerging from international isolation since the United Nations suspended sanctions last year after the North African country handed over two men indicted in the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am airliner over Scotland.


However, the United States, which has dubbed Libya a sponsor of terrorism, has yet to thaw its frozen relations with Tripoli.


Putin's foreign policy spokesman Sergei Prikhodko told RTR state television that Russia stood for the final scrapping of sanctions against Libya.


"We confirmed our assessment in favor of a definitive lifting of sanctions against Libya," Prikhodko said.


The UN sanctions included air and arms embargoes, a freeze on Libyan financial assets abroad and a ban on imports of oil-related equipment for refineries and transport.


The Soviet Union had close ties with Gadhafi and made lucrative arms sales. But under Mikhail Gorbachev, Moscow backed UN sanctions against Libya.


Post-Soviet Russia has taken steps in the past few years to mend strained ties with former Soviet allies. Moscow has praised North Korea's bid to end its isolation and has been increasingly critical of Western policies towards Libya and Iraq.


Shalgam, whose official title is secretary of the General Committee for External Affairs and International Cooperation, said the failure to scrap the sanctions altogether was a violation of international law.


"There is deception and pressure from the United States on the question of sanctions against Libya. We have done everything asked of us," he said. "Libya is not the country portrayed in some quarters engaged in propaganda and disinformation."