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Soviets Accuse U.S. of Using Libya as Scapegoat

August 29, 1986|From Times Wire Services

Soviet Foreign Ministry spokesman Gennady I. Gerasimov accused Washington on Thursday of falsely charging Libya with plotting terrorism in order to cover up U.S. aggression.

He pledged Soviet support for Libya but refused to say what Moscow would do if the United States were to attack Libya again.

Speaking at a news briefing in Moscow, Gerasimov said Vice President Pyotr N. Demichev will fly to Libya on Saturday for celebrations commemorating the Sept. 1, 1969, coup in which Col. Moammar Kadafi took power. Gerasimov said "business discussions" are possible during the visit, but he refused to elaborate.

He likened the current situation in the Mediterranean off Libya to that which preceded the U.S. bombing of two Libyan cities on April 15.

"Again we have maneuvers of the 6th Fleet of the U.S.A.," Gerasimov said. "Again it has been put into circulation the thesis of a Libyan threat. At the same time, they (U.S. officials) haven't produced any hard proof of this."

Egypt and the United States on Thursday concluded joint air and sea maneuvers in the Mediterranean. On Monday, a high-ranking U.S. official in Washington said that there was new evidence Libya was plotting terrorist attacks and that contingency plans had been prepared for a second air raid on Libya.

President Reagan said the first raid was in retaliation for Libyan involvement in terrorist attacks against Americans in Europe.

Meanwhile, two U.S. carrier task forces arrived at Rota naval base in Spain, near the entrance to the Mediterranean, the Navy said.

One carrier, the John F. Kennedy, had sailed from Norfolk, Va., on Aug. 18 to relieve the second carrier, the America, which has been in the region several months. The United States now has three carriers in the region, including the Forrestal, which took part in the joint exercises with Egypt and was ordered to remain on patrol in the Mediterranean instead of putting into an Israeli port as originally scheduled.

Robert Plotkin, the U.S. Embassy spokesman in Madrid, said ships of the U.S. 6th Fleet "move in and out of Rota as part of their normal pattern of rotation."

Kadafi, touring the port of Misurata on the Gulf of Sidra, was asked Thursday by Western journalists if he feared another U.S. attack on Libya. He curtly replied, "No," slammed his car door and was driven off.

It was the first time since April that foreign reporters have been able to exchange any words in public with Kadafi, who has been roaming Libya's central and southern deserts this week in a convoy of heavily armed jeeps.

Diplomatic sources in Tripoli said Kadafi recently moved his military command center from Tripoli to an underground site in Hun, a desert town 249 miles south of the capital.

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