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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russia Sees Limited Arms Sales to Libya

UNITED NATIONS — Russia is prepared to consider ways to make it easier forLibya to buy arms, but it voiced serious concern about lifting an embargo on the country,Russia's UN ambassador said.

Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan said last week that he planned to ask the UNSecurity Councilto lift the embargo, which was imposed at the start of an uprising in 2011 that culminated in the ouster of dictatorMoammar Gadhafi.

Russia's UN ambassador,Vitaly Churkin, who is president of theSecurity Councilthis month, said Monday that there were concerns about Libya's lack of internal authority and the spread of weapons across its borders.

He saidLibyahad not yet officially requested that the arms embargo be lifted but said the issue would likely be discussed by the 15-member council before a meeting onLibyalater this month.

"Some council members do have reservations about lifting the arms embargo," Churkin told reporters, noting thatLibya's government was already able to purchase weapons with the approval of aSecurity Councilsanctions committee.

"Of course, it can be regarded as a somewhat cumbersome procedure even though it's supposed to happen rather quickly," Churkin said. "I think we will also be looking at ways maybe to facilitate the possible acquisition of arms by the Libyan government short of full-fledged lifting of the arms embargo."

The Libyan governmenthas struggled to exert authority. State security forces remain weak, and militias made up of former rebel fighters hold power on the ground.

Libya's official LANA news agency quotedarmychief of staffYussef al-Mangoushas saying last week thatLibyawas planning to rebuild its armyand wanted to sign contracts to help achieve this goal and assess what kind of equipment it needed in the future.

Libya's south has become a smuggling route for weapons, which have reached al-Qaida militants deep in the Sahara Desert. The lawless region is also a conduit for contraband.

In the eastern city ofBenghazi, the cradle of the revolt against Gadhafi, there has been a wave of violence against diplomats, military and police, including an attack on Sept. 11 that killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans.

"It does give one pause, and I think it suggests a need to reflect very carefully on the advisability of lifting the arms embargo," Churkin said.

Russiais still bristling that its abstention from a UN vote in 2011 allowed NATO airstrikes to help Libyan rebels trying to topple Gadhafi.

Russian officials accused the United States and its allies of overstepping their mandate.

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