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Viewing cable 08TRIPOLI829, AL-QADHAFI: TO RUSSIA, WITH LOVE?

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TRIPOLI829 2008-10-17 14:02 2011-02-01 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tripoli
Appears in these articles:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/wikileaks-files/libya-wikileaks/
VZCZCXRO8755
OO RUEHTRO
DE RUEHTRO #0829/01 2911446
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O R 171446Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4005
INFO RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 0074
RUEHKV/AMEMBASSY KYIV 0011
RUEHSK/AMEMBASSY MINSK 0001
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA 0007
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 0599
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO 1245
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS 0635
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS 0783
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT 0727
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0150
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 0003
RUEHTRO/AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI 4526
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TRIPOLI 000829 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR NEA/MAG 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL:  10/17/2018 
TAGS: PREL MARR MASS LY BO RS UP VZ
SUBJECT: AL-QADHAFI: TO RUSSIA, WITH LOVE? 
 
REF: A) TRIPOLI 340, B) TRIPOLI 297, C) TRIPOLI 321, D) IIR 6 915 000 609  TRIPOLI 00000829  001.2 OF 002   CLASSIFIED BY: John T. Godfrey, CDA, U.S. Embassy Tripoli, Dept of State. REASON: 1.4 (b), (d) 1. (C) Summary:  Russian diplomats in Tripoli said Libyan leader Muammar al-Qadhafi planned to travel to Moscow October 31-November 2 to reciprocate the visit of then-President Vladimir Putin to Tripoli earlier this year.  Al-Qadhafi will be preceded by his son, Muatassim al-Qadhafi (Libya's National Security Adviser), who plans to arrive as early as October 25 to meet with officials at the Federal Security Bureau and the Ministry for Emergency Situations.  The visit would come on the heels of a recent port call in Tripoli by Russian naval vessels.  Al-Qadhafi reportedly considers his relationship with Putin to be good, and Libya seems eager to at least give the appearance of cultivating closer ties with Moscow, possibly to counter-balance recent agreements with Italy and the U.S. on colonial compensation and terrorism-related legal claims, respectively.  A successful visit to Russia could prompt closer military-to-military cooperation and equipment sales, something Russian diplomats here say they've been advocating for some time.  End Summary.  LIBYA HEADS INTO THE COLD  2. (C) Poloff met with Russian Emboff Evgeny Kozlov October 16 to discuss the recent visit to Tripoli of Russian warships. Kozlov volunteered that he was involved in finalizing arrangements for an upcoming October 31-November 2 visit to Russia by Libyan leader Muammar al-Qadhafi.  It is expected that military-military cooperation and sales of Russian military equipment to Libya will feature prominently in al-Qadhafi's visit. (Note: Per refs B-C, Russian DCM Anatoly Martinov told us in April in advance of Putin's visit that Russia hoped a joint Russian-Libyan military cooperation council established in the late 1990's would yield increased sales to Libya of Russian military equipment.  End note.) Kozlov said al-Qadhafi had hoped that Putin would attend his Revolution Day speech on August 31 in Benghazi and help inaugurate the Russian Railroad Company's work on a multi-billion dollar contract to construct a 554-kilometer rail spur between Benghazi and Sirte, which was negotiated during Putin's visit in April (ref A).  Al-Qadhafi had also arranged a joint meeting with Italian PM Berlusconi and Bolivian President Morales - both attended the Revolution Day celebration - and was disappointed that Putin had not joined them.  Describing the atmosphere between al-Qadhafi and Putin during the latter's visit to Tripoli on April 16 as "very friendly", Kozlov said Libya seemed eager to deepen its "productive coordination efforts" with Russia.  3. (C) According to Kozlov, Muatassim al-Qadhafi, son of Muammar al-Qadhafi and National Security Adviser, will travel to Russia ahead of his father to meet with senior officials at Russia's Federal Security Bureau and Ministry of Emergency Situations. (Note: Muatassim and another al-Qadhafi son, Khamis al-Qadhafi, have undertaken military studies in Moscow.  Khamis al-Qadhafi spent 14 months in a combined Russian staff college course especially designed for him and obtained a PhD in military sciences in 2007.  End note.)  Kozlov did not yet know whether External Security Organization chief Musa Kusa would accompany Muatassim.  He noted that nearly 200 Libyan protocol and MFA officials, together with another 100 military and security personnel, were en route to Moscow to advance the visit. Russian officials believed al-Qadhafi planned to stop in Minsk and Kiev on his way back to Tripoli from Moscow.  THE BEAR VISITS THE SHORES OF TRIPOLI  4. (C) Al-Qadhafi's visit would follow the October 11-13 port call of Russian warships to the shores of Tripoli (ref D).  The nuclear-powered missile cruiser Peter the Great, together with the frigate Intrepid and anti-submarine destroyer Admiral Chabanenko and support vessels, were in and around Tripoli harbor.  (Note: Tripoli's relatively shallow port prevented the Peter the Great from docking in the harbor.  End note.) According to Kozlov, at least seven senior Libyan naval officers, including the commander of the Tripoli naval base, toured the vessels.  Defense attaches accredited to Tripoli did not have an opportunity to tour the vessels, but children from the Russian Embassy-sponsored school did.  In an apparent nod to tensions between Moscow and Kiev, Ukrainian children at the school stayed in class while their Russian, Belarussian and Central Asian classmates enjoyed their field trip.  Kozlov said  TRIPOLI 00000829  002.2 OF 002   the flotilla would stop in Turkey and Syria before heading to Venezuela for joint Russian-Venezuelan naval maneuvers scheduled for late November.  Media reports indcate that the Intrepid will proceed separately to waters off Somalia.  5. (C) Comment: Kozlov touted the ship visit and al-Qadhafi's upcoming trip as signs that Russian-Libyan ties continue to grow.  Saif al-Islam al-Qadhafi made several statements to the press supporting Russia's actions at the height of the Georgia crisis in August, and Libyan PM al-Mahmoudi reportedly told the Kremlin that Libya would support Russia in the UNSC; however, it is difficult to assess the extent of Libya's commitment to deeper ties with Moscow.  Having just concluded agreements with Italy and the U.S. to resolve issues of longstanding concern - colonial compensation and terrorism-related legal claims, respectively - al-Qadhafi may be seeking to balance engagement with Western powers by reminding us and others that he still has other options for military-to-military cooperation and other engagement.  On a lighter note, Kozlov told us Libyan protocol had not yet raised whether and where it might pitch al-Qadhafi's tent - his preferred mode of lodging while on the road - in Moscow during the chilly fall season.  End Comment.GODFREY