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Report: France to sell anti-tank missiles to Libya

  • Story Highlights
  • Moammar Gadhafi's son tells paper France will sell anti-tank missiles to Libya
  • It's first arms supply deal between Libya and Western country, son says
  • French president denies arms deal secured release of foreign medics in Libya
  • European Union lifted arms embargo against Libya in 2004
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PARIS, France (Reuters) -- France has agreed to sell anti-tank missiles to Libya as part of a broader military agreement, the son of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi was quoted as saying by French newspaper Le Monde on Wednesday.

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, right, welcomes French President Nicolas Sarkozy to Tripoli last week.

"You know this is the first arms supply deal between Libya and a Western country," Saif al-Islam said, adding he expected more to be signed shortly.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy clinched an accord on defense and signed a memorandum of understanding for a nuclear energy deal when he visited Tripoli last week, after helping to free foreign medics imprisoned in Libya.

Sarkozy denied Wednesday the release was secured by an arms agreement, answering a question from journalists as to what deal had been offered by France by saying: "None."

France has not revealed details of the defense deal, but Islam told Le Monde it was groundbreaking.

"First of all, the accord covers joint military exercises, of course. Then, we will buy from France anti-tank Milan missiles worth 100 million euros [$136 million], I think."

The deal also included a project to manufacture arms, and maintain and produce military equipment, he added.

The European Union lifted an arms embargo on Libya in October 2004, but Islam said the ban had effectively remained in place, blaming the Germans for putting the brakes on possible deals.

Islam said Libya had been negotiating with France for a long time: "We have asked Sarkozy to speed things up."

The Milan is a portable, medium-range anti-tank weapon built by a subsidiary of EADS, jointly controlled by French and German interests. Islam said representatives of two other French firms, Thales and Sagem, were in Libya to discuss deals.

Islam also told Le Monde that Libya wanted guarantees that France would come to its defense if it was threatened, but said he did not know if this was included in the deal.

Sarkozy flew to Libya hours after helping secure the release of six foreign medics held in jail for eight years for allegedly infecting Libyan children with HIV.

"Now that the case of the nurses is sorted out, this is a golden opportunity opening up," Islam said. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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