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Friday, January 11, 2008       Free Headline Alerts

Russia revives naval ties with Libya

MOSCOW — Libya and Russia have renewed naval cooperation.

The Russian Navy sent fuel tanker to dock in Libya, Middle East Newsline reported. The arrival of the Russian Navy's Ivan Bubnov was the first port call in Libya in nearly five years.

"The visit of the Russian vessel to Libya could be seen as a revival of contacts with the country's navy in the interest of strengthening mutual understanding and building trust in the Mediterranean region," Capt. Igor Dygalo, the commander of Ivan Bubnov, said.

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Officials said the arrival of Ivan Bubnov was part of the Russian Navy's return to the Mediterranean Sea. They said a naval task force would visit Russian allies in several areas of the world.

Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said four warships and seven other vessels of Russia's Northern, Black Sea and Baltic Fleets were participating in the 12,000-mile tour. Serdyukov said the vessels contain 47 airplanes and 10 helicopters.

"The mission is aimed at ensuring a naval presence and establishing conditions for secure Russian navigation," Serdyukov said.

The navy said Ivan Bubnov spent several days in Tripoli and left on Jan. 7. The Russian Navy has also conducted port calls in Algeria and other countries in the region.

Libya, which owes $3.5 billion to Moscow, was a major ally of the former Soviet Union in the 1970s and 1980s. Russia has sought to modernize Libya's defense and energy sectors.

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