Libya seeking arms deals with Ukraine - Qaddafi - 2

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Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi said on Thursday his country was considering buying Ukrainian-made weaponry for defense purposes.
(Adds info on joint venture in paras. 5-7)

KIEV, November 6 (RIA Novosti) - Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi said on Thursday his country was considering buying Ukrainian-made weaponry for defense purposes.

Qaddafi arrived in Kiev on Tuesday for talks with President Viktor Yushchenko and top government officials. The three-day state visit to the former Soviet republic is his first since the collapse of the U.S.S.R., and comes as the third leg of a tour that started in Moscow and continued in Minsk.

"We have discussed military technical cooperation [with the Ukrainian leadership]," Qaddafi told a news conference in Kiev.

"We are interested in buying modern defensive weaponry for suitable prices," he said, adding that Libya was considering military-technical cooperation with other countries as well.

Meanwhile, Andriy Honcharuk, a deputy head of the Ukrainian presidential staff, said that the two countries would set up a joint venture in Africa for maintenance of Ukrainian helicopters.

"The joint venture will begin its work in the nearest future," he said.

He added that the enterprise would modernize, maintain and repair helicopters primarily used for humanitarian and relief operations in Africa.

Ukraine was the world's 10th biggest arms exporter from 2003 to 2007, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

About half its arms sales go to countries in the Commonwealth of Independent States, a regional grouping comprising a most of the former Soviet republics, 30% to Southeast Asia and Africa, and six percent to the Middle East.

In 2007, Ukraine earned $1.2 billion from weapons deals with 20 countries. Exports include tanks, combat aircraft, artillery systems and missiles, as well as after-sales service.

Although Kiev has greatly improved control over arms-exports, it remains a potential source of illegal weapons supply for rogue states and rebel groups worldwide.

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