Official: Libya to get French missiles

( AP ) - A Libyan official said Thursday that Moammar Gadhafi's long-isolated country has signed contracts worth $405 million with French companies for missiles and communications equipment.

A spokesman for French President Nicolas Sarkozy would not confirm the deal but said there appeared to be one. French officials denied that any deal to sell military equipment was in exchange for Libya's releasing six imprisoned medics last month.

The first contract, worth $230 million, is for Milan missiles, and the second, totaling $175 million, is for advanced Tetra communications and surveillance equipment for the police, said the Libyan official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press. He did not reveal the names of the French companies.

The official said the deal is important because it is the first of its kind that Libya has signed with a Western country since sanctions were imposed in the early 1990s.

In 2003, Gadhafi announced he was dismantling his nuclear weapons program, and the U.S. and Europe lifted sanctions. That same year, Libya accepted responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing, which killed 270 people, and agreed to pay restitution to the victims' families.

David Martinon, spokesman for Sarkozy, refused to confirm the contracts during an appearance late Thursday evening on France's LCI television.

"I do not confirm," Martinon said. But he added, "I imagine it to be true." The spokesman did not give the names of the French companies involved, but suggested one was the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co.

"It is not my job to speak about the commercial dealings of a company like EADS, which appears to have concluded this deal," he said.

Martinon insisted that no arms contract was signed during Sarkozy's visit to Tripoli last week, the day after the release of the five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor. He said there was "no compensation of that sort by France" for the release of the medics, who had been imprisoned 8 1/2 years for allegedly infecting Libyan children with the AIDS virus.

Libya allowed the medics to leave for Bulgaria on July 24 on the French presidential plane in the company of first lady Cecilia Sarkozy - on her second visit to Libya - and a European Union official.

The French president flew to Libya a day later to normalize relations with the one-time rogue state, now looking to rejoin the international community and erase its profile as an official sponsor of terrorism.

Sarkozy announced an initial agreement to sell Libya a nuclear-powered plant, saying the civilian nuclear technology would be used to desalinate sea water.

Under a deal sealed by the medics' release, the European Union agreed to an aid package and the prospect of increased trade ties. The Europeans also said they would encourage contributions to a Libyan fund set up to compensate families of the infected children.

There had been reports Wednesday of a military deal between France and Libya.

Gadhafi's son, Seif al-Islam Gadhafi, told the French daily Le Monde that a deal had been concluded involving the sale of French Milan anti-tank missiles for an estimated $137 million, as well as a deal on the joint Franco-Libyan manufacture of military equipment.

He also spoke of an agreement to conduct joint military exercises, adding this would be Libya's first military deal with a Western nation, according to Le Monde.

Earlier Thursday, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner also denied that France has made a deal with Libya to sell military hardware in partial exchange for the six medics.

"There was no accord, there was no compensation, no money and no specific accord on any arms," Kouchner said.

Kouchner conceded, however, that in any lengthy negotiations like those that led to the release of the six medics, it is "obvious" that "there is a slightly hidden aspect." He did not elaborate.

Also Thursday, Bulgaria's government said it wants to write off Libya's $57 million debt to Bulgaria and transfer the outstanding obligation to the internationally administered fund.

"With these funds, Bulgaria aims to help Libya in its efforts to modernize its medical infrastructure, to contribute to the treatment of the HIV-infected children and to financial aid to their families," the government press office said.

The six medics were serving life sentences in a Libyan prison after they were convicted of deliberately infecting more than 400 Libyan children with HIV in a hospital in Benghazi. Fifty of the children died.

The six had been imprisoned for more than eight years when Libya agreed last month, under intense international pressure, to transfer them to serve out their sentences in Bulgaria. Upon their arrival in Bulgaria, the president immediately pardoned and freed them. Libya protested against their release.

The medical workers denied infecting the children and said their confessions were extracted under torture. The charges were widely denounced abroad as false.

Turkmenistan, Russia discuss co-op within int'l organizations
Turkmenistan, Russia discuss co-op within int'l organizations
Kazakhstan's KAZ Minerals ups funding for copper project in Russia
Kazakhstan's KAZ Minerals ups funding for copper project in Russia
Russia's coronavirus infections near 450,000
Russia's coronavirus infections near 450,000
Loading Bars
Azerbaijan’s Technol plant talks about production plans
Georgia begins construction of Namakhvani HPP cascade
Azerbaijan’s Elektrogas company testing latest models of heating equipment
Industrial parks to appear in Kazakhstan's Almaty
Agrarian Credit & Development Agency talks subsidies issued to Azerbaijani farmers
Turkmenistan develops packers to increase oil field productivity
Construction of Georgian Kutaisi bypass road nearing completion
Embassy: Romania, Georgia enjoy excellent relations
More than half of financial irregularities in Azerbaijan fall on accounting and reporting
Wind power plant construction underway in Kazakhstan's Zhambyl
Azerbaijan extends project on supporting women's entrepreneurship
Polish company installing new systems at Kutaisi int'l airport in Georgia
Azerbaijan eyes exporting textile products to Russia, Arab countries
One more professional participant registered in Azerbaijan's insurance market
Uzbek United Processing Center to improve e-business environment in country
Georgia, Poland discuss resumption of air traffic
Federal Ministry: Germany seeks to further expand its relations with Azerbaijan
Azerbaijani association talks planned volume of hazelnut export
Users of fixed internet doubles in Georgia
Global Environment Facility supports environmental project of Uzbekistan
Azerbaijan detects 338 new COVID-19 cases
WeWork Global to invest $100 million in India business
Azerbaijani Tax Service comments on changes to Tax Code
TAP project’s schedule remains unchanged
Canada gains surprise 289,600 jobs in May, jobless rate hits record
Georgia to open skies to international flights
Turkmenistans Turkmenstandartlary extends tender to buy lab equipment
144 Azerbaijani citizens return from Ankara to Baku via Azerbaijan Airlines' flight (PHOTO)
Turkmenistan's Kaakhkinsky district expands areas for vegetable, fruit crops
Solar plant capacity to be increased in Kazakhstan's Karaganda
Kazakh FlyArystan suspends flights to regional center of West Kazakhstan
Uzbekistan sells state shares in wine cluster of Samarkand region
Georgia discloses amount of funds spent on quarantine space
Uzbekistan may lock co-op with Israeli geotechnical engineering company
Review of microfinance organizations' ratings in Georgia
Azerbaijan’s AccessBank ended 2019 with profit
Germany strengthens cooperation with Uzbekistan
Volume of fuel oil shipment via Turkish ports from Jan. through Apr. 2020 announced
Azerbaijani AccessBank’s liabilities decrease
Uzbekistan to upgrade infrastructure of Fergana region's district
Volume of Turkish mining industry products export declines
Azerbaijan's ministry talks postal services work during quarantine
No progress in latest round of EU-Brexit talks
LVMH backs down on renegotiating Tiffany deal
Azerbaijani MFA: Armenia may face severe consequences of its policy
Azerbaijani Energy Minister to attend OPEC+ Ministerial Meeting
Turnover of electric power surges in Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan's textile factory discloses knitwear production capabilities
Spain to open to foreign tourism from July 1
Cargo shipment volume from Ukraine via Turkish ports announced
Google Chrome's share in Azerbaijan's browser market grows
Nine insurance companies’ claims shrink in Azerbaijan
Turkmenistan, Russia discuss co-op within int'l organizations
Turkmenistan assesses environment, following 'day without cars'
France's import of grain, legumes from Turkey down
Coal railway cargo transportation up in Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan's AIFC to bring more revenue to state budget by project co-funding
Jewelry export from Turkey to foreign markets downgrades
South Korean Sejin G&E to bring gas-based power production to Uzbekistan
Turkmenistan's Health Ministry to buy medicines via tender
Uzbek-Chinese JV opens tender for procurement of mobile lifting machinery
British luxury carmaker Bentley to cut quarter of workforce
Presidents of Georgia, Albania may open direct flights
Canada interested in cooperation with Uzbekistan
WoodMac expects significant increase in 2021 oil demand
Azerbaijani parliament approves bill on 2019 budget fulfillment in first reading
Turkmenistan strives for saving Caspian Sea resources during COVID-19
Kazakhstan's KAZ Minerals ups funding for copper project in Russia
Volume of jet fuel transshipment through Turkish ports announced
Azerbaijan’s Elektrogas LLC talks manufacturing gas-fired water heaters
Azerbaijan creating its first biosphere reserve
Georgia, Germany, France discuss creating safe travel corridors
Iran restoring water level in Lake Urmia
All permits in place for new technology at Azerbaijan’s Kursangi, Garabagli fields
Israel-Georgia Chamber of Business boosting cooperation with Israeli LAHAV
Bombardier to cut 2,500 aviation jobs as COVID-19 hurts sales
Ambassador: Open market economy to help Georgia to become richer
Iran to discuss details of budget plan reform
Kulevi oil terminal holds annual inspection of all safety equipment
Assets of Azerbaijan’s AccessBank surge
Malaysia reports 19 new coronavirus cases, one new death
Kazakh-German oil extracting JV to buy spare parts via tender
Singapore heading for record unemployment in 2020
Uzbekistan sells state shares in Shahrisabz Star Hotel
Trade turnover between Turkey, Tajikistan slides
Iran reports COVID-19 data for June 5
Azerbaijan explains rules for shopping prior to weekends, amid hard quarantine
Businessmen from Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan to hold online forum
Kazakh Gas Refinery to buy pumps via tender
Turkish export of fruit, vegetables spikes
Indonesia reports 703 new coronavirus infections, 49 new deaths
Crude market to be in deficit also in August
Turkey reveals volume of diesel transshipped through country ports
European Investment Bank talks recent projects in Georgia
Kazakhstan considering approaches to unify some social payments
Azerbaijan has all prospects for economic growth in post-pandemic period
Data on cargo shipment via Turkish Bartin port disclosed
TURSAB to work on reviving tourism interest in Turkey for Uzbekistan
Road infrastructure of Tashkent to be upgraded
Azerbaijan's ADY Container boosts railroad transit volumes
All news