Russia says former Libya government should help reconciliation

Reuters , Sunday 4 Sep 2011

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says members of Libya's former government should participate in the country's reconciliation process

Members of Libya's former government should participate in the country's reconciliation process, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Sunday, weighing in on the future of a country where it has billions of dollars in contracts at stake.

"Those political, ethnic and tribal forces which represented former leaders of the Libyan government unconditionally should be a part of the process of national reconciliation," Interfax news agency quoted Lavrov as telling a news conference with his Brazilian counterpart Antonio Patriota.

Russia had billions of dollars worth of arms, energy and construction deals under deposed leader Muammar Gaddafi, and Moscow wants to make sure they are not lost during the transition to power by Libya's interim council.

Moscow has invited members of the National Transitional Council to discuss Russian contracts in the country stricken by six-months of civil war, an initiative Lavrov said had been received with some interest.

"Now there is interest, which was expressed by representatives of the National Transitional Council, regarding sending here those members of the structure, who are responsible for economic affairs," he said.

Russia's top oil and gas producers Gazprom , Gazprom Neft and Tatneft had invested hundreds of millions of dollars in exploration in Libya before suspending operations when an uprising broke out earlier this year against Gaddafi's rule.

Russia said it recognised Libya's NTC as the legitimate authority in Libya on Sept. 1 after repeatedly accusing NATO forces carrying out airstrikes as overstepping their mandate and siding with anti-Gaddafi forces in a civil war.

Russia's arms exporting monopoly Rosoboronexport has also said that it may have lost some $4 billion in existing and potential arms deals with Gaddafi's government.

Aram Shegunts, director general of the Russia-Libya Business Council, told Reuters in August that Russian energy firms are likely to be barred from resuming work in Libya after NATO-backed rebels ousted Gaddafi.

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