China says new Libya leaders will honor accords

September 13, 2011 - 5:00 AM

BEIJING (AP) — China has received reassurances from Libya's provisional authority that the country's new government will uphold all agreements signed with Beijing before the overthrow of Moammar Gadhafi, officials said Tuesday.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said the National Transitional Council in Libya has said it will "concretely abide by the existing bilateral treaties and agreements."

"We appreciate that and we would like to promote the stable transition and continuous development of China-Libya relations," Jiang said.

Jiang's comments come a day after China became the last member of the U.N. Security Council to formally recognize the transitional council as the ruling authority of Libya.

But Jiang said China was seeking more information before it would back the release of more of Libya's assets that were frozen since the start of the conflict in mid-February.

China had previously criticized the NATO-led air campaign against Gadhafi's forces and refused to condemn the dictator. It is a big investor in Libya, with 26 Chinese companies taking on an estimated $20 billion in business.

Earlier this month, Canada's Globe and Mail newspaper reported that Chinese arms makers had been in talks with Gadhafi's representatives in July to sell military supplies. China confirmed the talks but said no deals were signed and no arms were shipped.

The Libyan opposition that ousted Gadhafi says there is evidence that Chinese companies shipped weapons through Algeria to Gadhafi's forces after the outbreak of the uprising in violation of the U.N. embargo.

Jiang said China has always adopted a "fair and responsible" position on the Libyan issue. "We have made judgments based on the policy of noninterference in the internal affairs of Libya and the principle of respecting the Libyan people's choice," she said.

Chinese companies were major investors in Libyan infrastructure before the start of the conflict in mid-February. Many of China's projects in Libya were only half-completed and no estimates have been made of the losses, given the scale of the fighting and widespread looting.

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