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China denies arms sales to Qaddafi, admits meetings took place

The possible arms sales to Qaddafi, detailed in a Libyan government document, would violate UN sanctions. If true, the report would threaten China's standing with Libya's National Transitional Council.

By Correspondent / September 5, 2011

China has denied selling weapons to Muammar Qaddafi's regime in violation of a UN embargo, but admits that Libyan officials did meet with Chinese arms manufacturers over the possibility of a sale. The denial comes in response to a recently discovered Libyan document that details a possible arms deal and could impair relations between China and Libya's transitional government.

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Chinese spokeswoman Jiang Yu said Monday that China had not sold any weapons to Mr. Qaddafi's government directly or indirectly, although discussions of such sales did take place without government knowledge, reports Bloomberg News.

“The Qaddafi regime sent people to China to make contact with certain individuals of relevant Chinese companies in July without knowledge of government departments,” Ms. Yu said. “Chinese companies have not signed any military trade contracts with Libya, let alone sold arms to Libya.”

The documents that prompted China's statement, first published and reported on by the Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail, states that Libyan officials met with representatives of three Chinese arms manufacturers – China North Industries Corp. (Norinco); the China National Precision Machinery Import & Export Corp. (CPMIC); and China XinXing Import & Export Corp. – in July. The documents were found in the garbage in Tripoli's Bab Akkarah neighborhood, where several Qaddafi loyalists lived, and were printed on the letterhead of Qaddafi's government procurement agency.

The hosts thanked the Libyans for their discretion, emphasized the need for confidentiality, and recommended delivery via third parties.

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

The Chinese companies also noted that many of the items the Libyan delegation requested were already held in the arsenals of the Algerian military, and could be transported immediately across the border; the Chinese said they could replenish the Algerian stocks afterward. The memo also indicated that Algeria had not yet consented to such an arrangement, and proposed further talks at the branch offices of the Chinese companies in Algiers.


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