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Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Mikhail Kamynin's Interview with RIA Novosti on Russian-Libyan Relations

Question: How will you describe the political dialogue between Russia and Libya at this stage?

Answer: These days we are marking the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Russia and Libya. It will not be an exaggeration to say that over the past period our countries have traveled a not easy road in their development; many ordeals fell to their lot. But bilateral cooperation has stood the test of time, has traditionally been and is now distinguished by a mutually beneficial character. Although, of course, the sanctions against Libya, imposed by the UN Security Council at a point in the past, could not but tell on the intensity and fruitfulness of our relations.

Question: In 2003 the UN Security Council lifted the sanctions on Libya imposed in 1992-1993. How did the lifting of the anti-Libyan sanctions influence the development of bilateral cooperation? What are the priorities in cooperation with Libya at this stage?

Answer: In the last few years Russian-Libyan relations have noticeably intensified, and the political dialogue is being maintained at various levels. The two countries' Foreign Ministers have exchanged working visits, their meetings occur on the sidelines of UN General Assembly sessions. Contacts between the parliaments are being maintained.

It is with optimism that we assess the prospects for our political engagement, at the core of which lies the identity or similarity of the two countries' stands on key international and regional problems, in particular, such as forming a new multipolar world order, combating terrorism and safeguarding security, peace and sustainable development in the Middle East and Africa.

Question: What is happening in the sphere of trade-and-economic cooperation? How is the fulfillment of previously concluded contracts advancing?

Answer: Before the imposition of sanctions against Libya the volume of economic cooperation between our countries stood at about 1 billion dollars. Within its framework there were built in the Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya such projects as the Tajura Nuclear Research Center, two power transmission lines (190 and 467 kilometers), a 570-km gas pipeline; about 130 oil wells were sunk, and so on.

In 1997-2001 five sessions of the Intergovernmental Russian-Arab Commission on Trade-and-Economic and Scientific-Technical Cooperation were held alternately in the capitals of the two countries. They resulted in the signing of intergovernmental and interagency agreements on cooperation in the field of fuel and energy, and an agreement on cooperation between the chambers of commerce and industry of the two countries; agreements were reached in principle on the participation of Russian organizations in the implementation in Libya of major projects in the areas of energy, communications, transport, agriculture, oil and gas production, and the construction of gas pipelines and infrastructure facilities.

Question: Are there any new contracts being entered into? Is the trade turnover growing?

Answer: The last few years have seen the growth of the activity of Russian economic operators in the Libyan market, primarily, in the fuel and energy sector. A number of our firms have registered themselves and opened their representation offices in Libya; they are participating in tenders for the conduct of geological exploration work. Apart from the oil and gas sphere, quite good prospects exist for cooperation in electric power generation and in the fields of investment and industrial and transport infrastructure. The questions of building up bilateral ties in the fuel and energy sector were discussed in the course of the visits to Tripoli of both Igor Yusufov, presidential special representative in charge of international energy cooperation, and Alexey Miller, chairman of the Gazprom executive board.

As far as the trade turnover is concerned, its volume has a steady tendency for growth, even though it remains insignificant.

Question: Libya has recognized Russia as successor to the former USSR with regard to debts. What is the amount of the debt today and how is the solution of the question of its payment turning out?

Answer: The entire complex of questions of Libya's indebtedness to Russia - from verifying its volume to devising a concrete scheme and forms of repaying the debt - is the subject of the negotiations of the finance ministries and authorized banks of the two countries. Work is continuing in this direction. We presume that an early closure of the debt "dossier" would be conducive to building up the pace of bilateral cooperation in various fields.

Question: How are cultural and humanitarian links developing?

Answer: Cooperation in the fields of culture and science continues to develop, although its potential is far from being fully made use of. In 2004 art exhibitions of the works of graduates of the Surikov Academy of Arts with a display of souvenirs made by Russian folk craftsmen were arranged in Tripoli. At present the questions of an exchange of visits by representatives of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Asia and Africa and International Education Center of Moscow State University, and professors of a number of Libyan universities are being worked through under the existing agreement between the Institute of Oriental Studies and the Center for the Study of the Green Book.

Question: Is the practice continuing of allocation of quotas for the training in Russia of students and postgraduates from Libya?

Answer: As part of its assistance to Libya in the training of national personnel, Russia annually allocates five student and postgraduate scholarships out of its federal budget. In addition, an average of ten people annually come to Russia to get higher education on a compensation basis. For their part, the Libyans allocate a quota for Russian students from Muslim regions for training at the University of the Islamic Appeal.

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