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Libya, Iraq want to buy Russian arms: Minister

By IANS/RIA Novosti,

Moscow : Libya and Iraq continue to show interest in buying Russian-made weaponry despite regime changes in these countries, a minister said Tuesday.

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who oversees the defence industry, said: “The Libyan military leadership and the Iraqi government have shown serious interest.”

After the fall of the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq and Muammar Gaddafi’s government in Libya, many experts had suggested Russia had lost both lucrative arms markets.

Russia reportedly lost around $4 billion in arms sales to Libya in the aftermath of the uprising in 2011. The new Libyan authorities had repeatedly said they were not interested in buying Russian weaponry.

Rogozin said Libya, however, had a “very specific interest” in defensive weaponry.

“We are certain that the Libyan military leadership trusts this weaponry, which proved to be very reliable,” he said.

“That is why they are interested in restoring military-technical cooperation with Russia, and we welcome it,” he said.

Russia would continue insisting on the revival of contracts signed with the Gaddafi regime.

He said Iraq has also shown interest in buying Russian weaponry and equipment for anti-terrorism operations.

Iraqi Defence Minister Sadoun al-Dulaimi recently visited Russia and discussed the current state of bilateral military-technical cooperation with Russian officials.