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Last Updated: Friday, 3 August 2007, 20:46 GMT 21:46 UK
Sarkozy backs arms deal inquiry
Nicolas Sarkozy (l) and Muammar Gaddafi - 25/07/2007
Mr Sarkozy met Mr Gaddafi after six Bulgarian medics were freed
The French president has said he backs an inquiry to determine if an arms deal was offered to Libya in exchange for the release of six Bulgarian medics.

The statement from Nicolas Sarkozy's office came after the French leader left for his summer holidays in the US.

News of a contract between France and Libya for arms worth $405m (199m) sparked suspicion in France.

The deal was announced just one week after the six medics, imprisoned in Libya for eight years, were released.

France's opposition socialist party has called for an inquiry to reveal the details of negotiations between the two countries.

In the pipeline

"The president of the republic favours the initiative of... calling for the creation of a parliamentary inquiry into recent developments between France and Libya," Mr Sarkozy's office said.

It added it was confident the investigation would confirm all the statements made by the French authorities.

France's defence minister said on Friday that the deal had been in the pipeline for months.

Herve Morin added that since an arms embargo had been lifted France was one of several countries in discussions with Libya.

"There are a lot of countries in talks with Tripoli: the Italians, the Russians, British," Mr Morin said.

Mediation

But Muammar Gaddafi's son has said that drawing the medics' case to a conclusion had paved the way for the deal.

The arms agreement is Libya's first with a Western country since a European Union embargo was lifted in 2004.

Mr Sarkozy had promised to visit Libya if the case of the medics, who insisted their confessions of deliberately infecting children with HIV were made after torture, was completely resolved.

The five Bulgarian nurses and Palestinian-born doctor were freed on 24 July and flown to Bulgaria after years of negotiations that concluded with French mediation.

French officials insist that no arms agreements were signed during the visit of Mr Sarkozy to Tripoli the following day.




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