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France has secret oil deal with Libya''s NTC

PARIS, Sept 1 (KUNA) -- French authorities have allegedly reached a secret agreement with Libya's National Transitional Council (NTC) to be allowed to exploit 35 percent of Libya's oil sector, a deal that was obtained last April, leading French daily "Liberation" said Thursday.
The revelation came as France prepares to host Thursday evening a major, international conference to garner support for the NTC in its reconstruction and transition process in Libya.
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe, in a radio interview earlier, denied knowledge of a "formal" or specific deal but said it would be "logical" for countries like France, which helped the NTC obtain freedom, to take part in reconstruction.
Juppe said he did not know of or had not seen a letter allegedly sent April 3 by the NTC to another Coalition partner, Qatar, in which there is mention that France would take "35 percent of crude oil...in exchange for its total and permanent support" of the NTC.
France was the first nation to officially recognize the NTC as "the sole, legitimate representative of the Libyan people" and the only governmental authority in that country, and lobbied other countries to recognize the NTC.
France was also the first country to commence attacks against forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi last March 19 in Benghazi and has provided, with Britain, the bulk of the military hardware and personnel for operations in Libya since then.
Paris also supplied a limited amount of weapons to opposition forces in Libya, a move that was criticized because of the total arms embargo imposed by the UN Security Council on arms deliveries to the any side in the conflict.
The purported letter on an oil deal was produced in part by "Liberation" it its Thursday edition.
Juppe announced in the radio interview with "RTL" that France was in the process of getting UN authorisation of release over USD 2.0 billion in frozen, Libyan assets to the NTC but denied knowledge of the NTC communication with Qatar.
Three days ago, another Coalition partner, Italy, announced publicly that it had reached an agreement with Libya on a gas pipeline deal, but the French agreement, if it proves true, has not so far been made public.
Libyan oil output was averaging between 1.3-1.4 million barrels per day before the conflict but could soon reach 1.6 million b/d of high-quality, light crude. (end) jk.rk KUNA 011229 Sep 11NNNN