Documents Purport to Show China Offered Arms to Gadhafi

Posted September 5th, 2011 at 12:25 am (UTC-5)
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A Canadian newspaper says it has discovered documents showing Chinese companies offered to sell at least $200 million of sophisticated weapons to Moammar Gadhafi's beleaguered Libyan government in late July.

Both the Toronto Globe and Mail and the New York Times quote members of Libya's National Transitional Council saying they believe the documents are authentic. However a NATO spokesman reached in Brussels by the Reuters news agency said he was skeptical.

The documents, found in a trash pile by a Globe reporter, say the Chinese companies offered to sell Mr. Gadhafi's government rocket launchers, antitank missiles and portable surface-to-air missiles. The companies suggested the arms could be delivered through Algeria or South Africa which, like China, were slow to end support for the longtime leader.

Any such sales would be a violation of United Nations sanctions, something China says it does not do.

The reports will further complicate relations between Libya's new provisional government and China, which had billions of dollars invested in Libya's oil sector before the anti-Gadhafi revolt began. It is not clear whether the provisional government will honor Gadhafi-era contracts, but NTC officials have hinted they will favor companies from countries that supported their revolt.

The Globe says its reporter found the documents in a curbside trash pile in a neighborhood populated by Gadhafi loyalists. The documents indicate that Mr. Gadhafi's top security aides traveled in mid-July to Beijing, where they met with officials from several state-controlled arms companies.

The newspaper said the documents bore the letterhead of the government's arms-procuring Supply Authority, and that the letterhead matched stationery obtained in the authority's offices.

An NTC spokesman told the newspaper he believed some of the weapons described in the documents were used against rebel forces in the final weeks of their drive toward Tripoli.