Algeria denies arming Kadhafi: France

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France has challenged Algeria over claims it is supplying arms to help Libyan strongman Moamer Kadhafi put down the revolt against his rule, and received a firm denial, Paris said Tuesday.

France's Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said he had spoken to his Algerian counterpart Mourad Medelci on Monday, following allegations from the rebels fighting Kadhafi that Algeria was continuing to arm him.

"I told him: 'Here it is, there is information circulating that Kadhafi may have received several hundred armed vehicles carrying munitions from Algeria'," Juppe told a lunch in Paris for diplomatic correspondents.

"I asked him the question and he assured me ... that it wasn't true."

Earlier, the Algerian foreign ministry had confirmed the two ministers had spoken, but had not provided any detail on their conversation.

France has recognised Libya's rebel Transitional National Council as the best representative of the Libyan people and has demanded Kadhafi step down, while taking a leading role in NATO air strikes against his forces.

The TNC has repeatedly accused Algeria of arming the regime and even claims to have captured Algerian "mercenaries" on the battlefield, but Algiers firmly denies all the charges.

© 2011 AFP

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