MOSCOW, Nov. 3 (UPI) -- Libyan leader Col. Moammar Gadhafi says he wants to strengthen commercial ties with Russia, especially in the oil and gas sectors.
After meeting with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in Moscow over the weekend, Gadhafi told the Interfax news agency that he and Putin "think alike about gas and oil policies" and may be angling to play Russia off the United States for commercial and political advantages, The New York Times quoted analysts as saying.
"(Libyans) want to say, 'Look, we have options,'" Alex Turkeltaub, a managing director at Frontier Strategy Group, a risk consultancy firm, told the newspaper. "This is a shot across the bow to the new administration in Washington."
Putin said Russia and Libya were "becoming closer and closer" as Gadhafi made his first visit to Moscow since the fall of the Soviet Union.
Gadhafi has been noncommittal on an offer by the Russian natural gas monopoly Gazprom to buy all of Libya's natural gas production in a deal that could help Gazprom corner the European natural gas market, the Times said. Russia is reportedly trying to sweeten the deal by offering to provide Libya with a civilian nuclear research reactor.