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France Negotiating Jet Deal With Libya, Report Says

January 8, 1989

LONDON (AP) _ France is negotiating to sell jet fighters to Libya, a U.S. official was quoted as saying in a report published Sunday.

The Sunday Telegraph said the senior official, who the report did not name, said information about the deal to sell Mirage jet fighters was compiled with the help of European intelligence agencies.

The report did not say how many jets were under negotiation.

Navy Lt. Cmdr. James Kudla, a Defense Department spokesman in Washington, said he had not seen the report and could not comment on it.

The newspaper said Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi ″wants to replenish his stock of aging (Soviet) MiG planes with the latest French fighter,″ the Mirage.

It said the French government first sold Libya a version of the Mirage in 1978 which was delivered in the early 1980s, although Libya now receives most of its military equipment from Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.

″The United States fears that, if the Libyans had been equipped with the new Mirage, the fight over the Mediterranean last week could have ended differently,″ said the report, referring the U.S. downing of two Libyan planes on Wednesday.

He said the United States had not confronted the French with its knowledge.

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