Friday, October 31, 2008

Folllwing Syria's example, Libya now also wants a Russian naval base on its soil

Russia to up Mediterranean presence? Press TV reports:

The Libyan president will discuss opening a Russian naval base in Libya during his three-day visit to Moscow, according to a newspaper.

"During these talks the colonel [Muammar Gaddafi] intends to raise the issue of opening a base for Russia's navy in the Libyan port of Benghazi," the business daily Kommersant quoted an unnamed source involved in preparing Gaddafi's visit.

"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," said the source on Thursday.

In 1986, US aircraft from Italy bombed Tripoli, Benghazi and the home of Gaddafi that killed over 40 people including his adopted baby daughter.

After 55 years, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met Gaddafi in Libya last month in a move symbolizing the end of years of enmity.

Meanwhile, it seems Russia is going to double its military presence in the Mediterranean Sea after a vessel from its Black Sea fleet restored facilities at Syria's port of Tartus for use by the Russian military.

Earlier reports also said that Gaddafi, starting his visit on Friday, would discuss buying advanced Russian weaponry such as Su-30 fighter planes worth over 2 billion dollars.

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

Gaddafi last visited Russia in 1985 before the breakup of the Soviet Union. Relations between Libya and Russia have warmed since current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin visited Libya in April 2008.