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LONDON (Reuters) – Libya's ruling family tried to coerce billions of dollars from Libyan and foreign oil companies, and its leader Muammar Gaddafi exhorted the United States to sow division in Saudi Arabia, leaked American diplomatic cables reveal.
One cable seen by Reuters, sent from the U.S. embassy in Tripoli, shows Gaddafi's government exerting heavy pressure on U.S. and other oil companies to reimburse Tripoli the $1.5 billion Libya had paid in 2008 into a fund to settle terrorism claims from the 1980s.
The amount was the initial payment in a planned $1.8 billion fund. The cable
Even before Libya paid into the fund, Gaddafi, "who prides himself on being a shrewd bargainer, made it clear that he intended to extract contributions from foreign companies to cover the ... initial outlay," according to the April 2009 cable titled "GOL ratchets up pressure on oil companies to contribute to U.S.-Libya claims fund."
Senior Libyan officials met representatives of 15 oil producing and service companies -- including Marathon, ConocoPhillips, Occidental, ENI, Total , Wintershall, PetroCanada, Repsol and StatoilHydro -- to say they must contribute or Libya's National Oil Corporation (NOC) would be compelled to "reconsider our relationship with you," the cable says.
Prime Minister-equivalent al-Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi is cited as telling oil firms that if they did not comply, there would be "serious consequences."