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China confirms visit from Gadhafi representatives seeking arms, but says no weapons shipped
BEIJING (AP) ' Representatives of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi visited Beijing in July seeking to buy arms, though no contracts were signed and no weapons were shipped, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said Monday.
Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu confirmed that Gadhafi's officials met with representatives from Chinese companies, but gave no details about the discussions.
She said China strictly adheres to a United Nations ban on supplying arms to the toppled regime and backed the role of the UN in a post-conflict Libya.
"Chinese companies have not provided military products to Libya in any direct or indirect form," Jiang said at a daily briefing.
Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail reported last week that Gadhafi's officials negotiated to buy weapons and ammunition from Chinese arms makers China Northern Industries Corporation, China Precision Machinery Import and Export Company, and China Xinxing Import and Export Company.
Representatives of the companies either could not be contacted or said no spokesman was available to speak with the media.
The fact that meetings were even held with Gadhafi's representatives could deliver a further blow to Beijing's relations with the new government, and reinforce the belief that China may have been trying to play both sides of the conflict.
China never endorsed the U.N. resolution authorizing force against the Gadhafi regime and has yet to formally recognize the opposition Transitional National Council as the new rulers of Libya.
During the conflict, China and Russia both questioned whether the supplying of weapons to rebels breached the terms of the U.N. ban.
China has also been accused of holding up the release of frozen Libyan funds held overseas, allegedly in order to first guarantee the safety of billions of dollars in Chinese investments in Libya.
Jiang said China had no problem in principle with releasing the funds, but wanted to ensure there was adequate supervision over their use.