Relations with Western Europe and the United States
During the 1980s, Libyan relations with Western Europe and the United States have been generally strained. In the preceding decade, however, relations were relatively cooperative. Although the new regime required the closing of British and American military bases in Libya in 1970, its strident anticommunism pleased the Western powers. This policy orientation was confirmed in 1971 when Libya supported Sudanese President Numayri against an unsuccessful leftist coup attempt. And at the 1973 conference of the Nonaligned Movement in Algiers, Qadhafi challenged the validity of Fidel Castro's credentials as a nonaligned leader.
Qadhafi believed that most West European nations had repudiated their imperialist legacy by the 1970s, a conviction that paved the way for increased trade, if not for cordial political relations. Libyan ties with Western Europe were for the most part commercial. The Federal Repubic of Germany, for example, was a major purchaser of Libya's petroleum exports. Libya also purchased some military equipment from Western Europe, notably from France. Libya developed extensive commercial relationships with Italy and Great Britain. Commercial ties prospered for pragmatic reasons even as Qadhafi denounced the European Economic Community's trade relations with Israel and with NATO bases in the Mediterranean. On only several occasions have Libyan political considerations overridden the economic imperative, as in 1973 when Libya joined the Arab oil boycott that adversely affected several West European nations. For their part, the West European nations have likewise continued to trade with Libya despite proved Libyan involvement in terrorism on the continent.
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