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China says Kadafi regime tried to buy arms to fight Libyan rebels

Beijing acknowledged Monday that Libyan arms dealers came to China over the summer shopping for weapons to prop up Col. Moammar Kadafi’s faltering regime but denied that any sales were made.

Such an arms sale would have violated a United Nations Security Council resolution passed in February, with China’s support, imposing sanctions on Libya for using force against civilians.

“The Kadafi regime sent people to China to contact certain individuals of relevant companies without the knowledge of Chinese government departments,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said in a briefing.

After passage of the U.N. resolution, she said, “Chinese companies have not provided military equipment to Libya, directly or indirectly.”

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The statement confirmed the essence of what was revealed in purported military documents recently uncovered in Tripoli. The crumpled papers, which were first reported by the Globe and Mail of Toronto, were discovered in a heap of trash in the neighborhood of Bab Akkarah, home to many wealthy Kadafi supporters.

A memo written on the letterhead of a Libyan military procurement agency says pro-Kadafi agents flew to Beijing on July 16 and met with officials of three state-owned enterprises. The memo says the Chinese companies were eager to sell whatever they had ready and to make new weapons, and even suggested a ruse to circumvent sanctions by having Libya purchase through a third country.

“The companies suggest that they make the contracts with either Algeria or South Africa, because those countries previously worked with China,” the memo says, according to the Globe and Mail.

Although the documents, whose authenticity could not be confirmed, do not indicate whether a sale took place, officials of the transitional government in Libya have said they believe that the deal went through, replenishing Kadafi’s arsenal.

barbara.demick@latimes.com


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