Thursday, October 2, 2008

Russian Warships To Visit Libya On Way To Caribbean

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian warships will stop off in Libya on their way to conduct joint naval exercises next month with outspoken U.S. foe Venezuela, Russian Navy spokesman Igor Dygalo told Reuters on Wednesday.

The warships, led by the nuclear-powered heavy missile cruiser Peter the Great, left their base on Sept. 22 in the latest show of strength by Moscow as it builds links with some of Washington's sharpest critics.

Russian media have reported that the warships could also divert to a Syrian port, though this has not been confirmed.

The ships will visit the Libyan capital Tripoli after entering the Mediterranean Sea on Oct. 5, Dygalo said.

"Having a reserve of time before holding joint exercises with Venezuela's navy, set for November 2008, a unit of warships will drill a large number of exercises ... in various parts of the Mediterranean Sea and will also call at a number of ports in Mediterranean states," Dygalo said.

The U.S. navy also has ships deployed in the Mediterranean.

Libya was seen as a rogue state by Washington until it agreed to give up weapons of mass destruction programme. Last month U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in Tripoli, the first such visit in 55 years.

"As soon as they accomplish all their tasks in the Mediterranean Sea, the unit will head for the Caribbean Sea in order to arrive on time for a joint naval exercise in Venezuela," Dygalo said.

The exercises with Venezuela will be closely watched by Western navies as the first such projection of Russian power close to U.S. shores since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Source: TheStar.Com.My

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