11 Dec 15. Finmeccanica CEO says Westland Helicopters not for sale. Finmeccanica has not received any offer for the British arm of its helicopter business AgustaWestland and does not plan to sell it anyway, the aerospace and defence group’s chief executive, Mauro Moretti, said on Friday.
“We didn’t have any request and, even if we had, we wouldn’t think of selling,” Moretti said.
British newspaper The Sunday Times said in a report this week that Boeing made a bid earlier this year to buy Westland but the approach was spurned.
“It is a strategic sector, it is core business … It is a sector where we are investing, also in Britain,” Moretti said.
In 2001 Agusta and Westland were merged as a joint venture company by respective owners Finmeccanica and UK engineering group GKN and four years later Finmeccanica acquired GKN’s 50 percent stake. (Source: Reuters)
11 Dec 15. Norway authorizes purchase of 6 more Lockheed F-35 fighter jets. Norway has approved a defense budget that authorizes the purchase of six additional Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 fighter jets for delivery in 2020, Endre Lunde, a spokesman for Norway’s F-35 program, said on Friday. The purchase will bring the total number of jets authorized by Norway to 28, Lunde said. (Source: Reuters)
10 Dec 15. Tony Blair says he urged Gaddafi to quit ahead of air strikes. Tony Blair has told MPs he made “two or three” attempts to persuade Muammer Gaddafi to relinquish power before the UK joined an international coalition launching air strikes in 2011 against the Libyan regime. The former prime minister said on Friday that if he had been in power the UK approach “would have been different because of my relationship with him [Gaddafi]” but stopped short of criticising David Cameron’s decision.
Oil-producing Libya is today a largely lawless state into which Isis has expanded since Gaddafi was killed in October 2011 during the conflict that followed the end of his 42-year reign.
Called before the foreign affairs select committee as part of its investigation into UK policy towards Libya, Mr Blair said the country was “in a state of instability and chaos” and posed a “real security problem” for Britain.
Later known as the “deal in the desert”, Mr Blair in March 2004 offered what he called the “hand of friendship” to Gaddafi, whereby the Libyan leader agreed to stop sowing terrorism and surrender weapons of mass destruction, in exchange for western companies’ help to extract his nation’s oil reserves.
That deal with the autocrat termed the “mad dog” of the Middle East by former US president Ronald Reagan followed three decades in which Gaddafi posed a threat to western security. In that period Libya supported the Irish Republican Army with weapons and was behind the 1988 bombing of a PanAm airliner over Lockerbie in Scotland.
“It was important that we brought them in from the cold,” Mr Blair said on Friday, adding that by encouraging Gaddafi to hand over chemical weapons, the west averted the danger of Isis today acquiring such an arsenal.
Mr Blair, who after leaving Downing Street travelled to Libya on behalf of JPMorgan, said that “I never had any business interests in Libya”.
“The prize for us was enormous,” he said, arguing that as well as the benefits to UK companies such as BP, rapprochement with Libya brought useful intelligence information about terrorist threats.
Asked about his role in the final days of the Gaddafi regime, Mr Blair said there were “two or three calls” between him and the autocrat over the space of 24 hours, in each of which he participated as a “concerned private citizen”.
He said he cleared the calls with Hillary Clinton, then US secretary of state, and with Downing Street and said he spoke to Mr Cameron once about the phone calls during the autumn of 2011.
Mr Cameron was “perfectly open to me having a conversation with him [Gaddafi] . . . but there was a very strong feeling, especially in the US, that he had to go”.
Mr Blair s