Soviet-libyan Oil Pact Viewed As Marriage of Convenience
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Soviet-libyan Oil Pact Viewed As Marriage of Convenience

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The disclosure in Moscow last night of a Soviet agreement with Libya to jointly develop that country’s oil resources was viewed here today as primarily a marriage of convenience for both parties. Although the agreement breaks the Western oil monopoly in Libya, it is not considered likely that Russia will play a major role in the Libyan oil industry nor is it expected to alter the strong internal anti-Communist stand of Libya’s ruling military junta headed by Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi. According to Tass, the pact was signed Feb. 29.

According to a report in Tass, the Soviet press agency, the pact which was reached with a Libyan delegation in Moscow, includes prospecting for mineral deposits and gas, training Libyan national cadres, provides for cooperation in prospecting, extracting and refining oil, and in developing power generation and other branches of Libya’s national economy.

Qaddafi, who has likened Soviet imperialism to Western imperialism, has been uncomfortable in relation to his partners in the loose federation he entered into last Sept. with Egypt and Syria, both countries with strong ties to Moscow, But he regards the agreement with Moscow as political leverage in dealing with the West which he mistrusts no less than the Soviet Union.


Observers here said the main reason the Soviet Union signed the pact was its inability to develop its own oil resources fast enough to keep pace with its industrial expansion. The USSR is said to be lagging by as much as 10 years in this endeavor. The Soviet Union once an oil exporting nation, has in recent years become an importer of oil.

The Soviet-Libyan deal confirmed what political observers have known for years–that Soviet relations with any country has little to do with that country’s regime or ideology. This is the case in Egypt where the Communist Party is illegal. It is most evident in Russia’s brisk trade with Spain whose regime under Gen. Franco is regarded as Fascist by the USSR. Observers here said that Russia’s need for Middle East oil may eventually lead it to deals with Saudi Arabia which is vehemently anti-Communist.

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