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February 16, 1979

Note about the Meeting between Comrades Erich Honecker and Muammar al-Gaddafi on 16 February 1979 in Tripoli

N o t e


About the Meeting between Comrades Erich Honecker and Muammar al-Gaddafi on

16 February 1979 in Tripoli



After introductory remarks on the course of the friendship visit to the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, M. Gaddafi outlined Libya’s military-strategic situation.


Libya is completely surrounded by enemies.


- Especially dangerous is the situation along the Egyptian-Libyan border. Egypt has established three new military bases next to the Libyan border in addition to the already existing one in Mersa Matruh. Currently 250,000 Egyptian soldiers are at this border and an additional 750,000 troops are in the hinterland. The 4th Tank Division has been redeployed from the Suez Canal to the Libyan Border. The United States, England, and France are delivering arms in large quantities to Egypt, of which some are directly steered to Mersa Matruh by air or via sea. Libya has knowledge about the feverish military activities next to its border through eavesdropping in the telegram communication between Egypt, England, and France. He [Gaddafi] asked to keep this information top secret. Against this huge superiority the Libyan Army is numerically no match. A balance can only be achieved through increased deliveries of modern military technology.


- Sudan follows a similar policy like Egypt and is closely allied with Egypt.


- Chad: The entire Northern part of the country is in the hands of FROLINAT[1]. Currently the latter is marching towards the capital of the Eastern province. The main obstacle against a victory of FROLINAT are the French forces, which are mostly concentrated on two airfields on the East-West-Axis. Their strength is 3,000 men, rapid reinforcements are possible. If the French would withdraw, the liberation front could win within 24 hours. Recently they shot down 5 airplanes of type Jaguar. The two groups led by Malloum[2] and Habre[3] in the current military conflict are hostile to both FROLINAT and also Libya. He [Gaddafi] has just received the news that the Libyan Embassy in Chad has been destroyed, though people have not been injured.


- Niger is not hostile towards Libya. However, it is so strongly under French influence that it will execute every French order and thus will in case of conflict also belong to Libya’s enemies.


- The only really peaceful border is the Libyan-Algerian border. However, it is in desert areas. Thus there does not exist a direct link between the densely populated areas of Algeria and Libya. Today one cannot yet say how Algeria will develop in the future. There exists the opportunity that Algeria will become a weak state, or there will be no continuation of the progressive path.


- Tunisia is strongly under French influence so that this border is endangered as well.


- The Northern border is the Mediterranean Sea where there is the 6th American Fleet, as it is well known. This is making the encirclement of Libya complete. Fidel Castro was of the same opinion like him [Gaddafi] that this situation does not only concern Libya and Cuba, but the entire socialist community of states.


The situation of the Libyan revolution is similar like the one of the Ethiopian revolution.  Both are almost completely encircled by the enemy. With regard to Ethiopia, Kenia is playing a similar role than Niger does in the case of Libya.


- In this situation, Libya does primarily need heavy weapons so that it can defend itself. This is especially important, since Egypt is receiving arms not only from the United States, England, and France, but also from China, Romania, and Yugoslavia. Though Libya has received many arms from the USSR, it also still needs urgently certain heavy weapons. In this context he praised the Soviet Union as a friend and ally. However, with regard to needed deliveries - about what he had already talked with Comrade Honecker in Berlin - there has been no further progress achieved with the Soviet Union on the question of heavy weapons. Gaddafi is aware of the position and role of the GDR in the socialist camp, and he is thus requesting to exert its influence in favor of Libya.


In his response, Comrade Honecker referred to the international balance of forces and the successes achieved in Vietnam, Kampuchea, and Iran. Comrade Honecker asked the question about the actual Libyan need in military respects. According to our information, the negotiations with the GDR in January had shown that, with regard to many items that had been requested by Libya previously, there was no longer a desire for acquisition. He [Honecker] is asking for confirmation here, so that we know what Libya does really need. He emphasized the GDR had made its offers explicitly on the basis of solidarity and friendship and according to the earlier submitted Libyan requests.


The following issues were addressed on the basis of the report by the Minister for National Defense of the GDR:


- Helicopter pad navigational lighting

- Strela[4] [surface-to-air] missile launchers

- Water filtration plants

- Transportable container filling stations

- Gaddafi explained that field hospitals will be delivered by Hungary. Here Comrade Honecker asked whether this also applies to the 40 doctors and mid-level medicinal cadres and the equipment for the hospitals in Tripoli, Tobruk, Benghazi, and Sabha[5]. Gaddafi promised to review the question, he does not know the answer at the moment.

- 3 training centers


Gaddafi agreed to accept the 3 training centers for missile launchers produced  

by the GDR, under the condition that the deliveries of missiles is guaranteed.


With the qualifications mentioned, Libya would be interested in all those projects. Gaddafi summarized that the GDR will officially send trainers and advisers for the arms the GDR is delivering to Libya. Gaddafi noted that the trainers have to speak Arabic. Comrade Honecker explained that the training in the GDR will be conducted in German (German language courses for Libyans) and in Libya in Arabic.


Regarding Iran, Gaddafi said that he doesn’t know Khomeini[6] in person, but there exist relations and Libya has provided a lot of money for the Iranian Revolution.


Pertaining to Angola, Zambia, and Mozambique Gaddafi stated the following:


- Based on the decisions by the 4th General People’s Congress, Libya is willing to provide all its capacities to the three front states, including a direct participation in the fight if such would be necessary.


- He asked Comrade Honecker to again tell the Presidents of Angola, Mozambique, and Zambia that they should send “people’s forces” for military training to Libya. Libya is covering all costs. They [Libyans] had agreed in principle to form such units, which can be variably deployed in the respective areas according to demand. This will not be about regular army units.


- He is asking Comrade Honecker to tell Samora Machel[7] that the Mozambican forces can be withdrawn from Tanzania, since now there is no more reason for their presence in Tanzania. They were deployed to Tanzania when Uganda had attacked Tanzania. Libyan had exerted pressure on Uganda and subsequently Uganda did withdraw. If Tanzania will not be moved to withdraw its forces from Uganda, Idi Amin[8] will feel provoked and switch to the other camp. This has to be prevented by all means, since then there will emerge a hostile bloc consisting of Uganda, Central Africa, and Chad.


Remarks by Gaddafi on bilateral economic cooperation: This cooperation is good, but there are problems with some prices. Here he wants to name for example only two projects:


- A compound feed mill from the GDR costs 70 million Dinar, from the FRG[9] 40 million and from Italy about 25 million. This means Libya would receive 1 instead of 3 mills.


- A cement plant from the GDR costs 68 million Dinar, from Romania 44 million Dinar.  


Libya would like to buy from the GDR, but such offers it cannot accept.


Comrade Honecker replied he will present these questions still today to the experts. They will then provide a comparison of GDR prices with world market prices in consideration of the technical parameter.



On the Joint Declaration


- Gaddafi emphasized that Libya has a clear position on the revolution in Kampuchea. But it not does not want to provoke China, because one has to be afraid that China will then militarily support Egypt with all its weight and take over the [previous] role of the Soviet Union in Egypt.


Comrade Honecker referred to the way too modest military-technological capacities of China regarding a potential support of Egypt.


- Agreement was reached regarding the written formulas on Kampuchea and the imperialist interference in Chad as submitted by Comrade Honecker. Here Gaddafi expressed the desire to find a wording mentioning the FROLINAT.


- Based on Comrade Honecker’s proposal it was agreed to sign the Joint Declaration.


- Comrade Honecker raised the question of a Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation. Gaddafi expressed he would be instantly ready to sign such a treaty, if it is technically possible. Subsequently it was agreed to include a reference to this treaty into the Joint Declaration.


- Gaddafi agreed with the proposals and requests by Comrade Honecker regarding the conference of the non-aligned states in Havana, especially to use Libya’s influence in the Non-Aligned Movement against the slandering of Cuba, Vietnam, and Kampuchea, as well as to advocate that the Non-Aligned Movement increases its struggle for disarmament and against nuclear arms. This would also have positive effects on the situation in the Middle East and Africa.


- Gaddafi thanked for the detailed explanations concerning the relations between the GDR and the FRG and the information about the imperialist policy of the FRG, as well as about its attempts to undermine the Quadripartite Agreement on West Berlin[10] through the fact that Ministers from Algeria, Libya, and other states will be also brought to West Berlin when they are visiting the FRG.


Signed: Haake



[1] “Front de libération nationale du Tchad” (National Liberation Front of Chad), an insurgent rebel group that was active between 1966 and 1993 and most of the time supported by Gaddafi’s Libya.

[2] Félix Malloum (1932-2009). President of Chad from 1975 to 1979.

[3] Hissène Habré (born 1942). From 1978 to 1979 Prime Minister, from 1982 to 1990 President of Chad.

[4] The document wrongly says “Strella”.

[5] The document wrongly says “Sobha”.

[6] Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini (1902-1989), Supreme Leader of Iran from 1979 to 1989.

[7] 1933-1986. President of Mozambique 1975-1986.

[8] 1925-2003. President of Uganda 1971-1979.

[9] Federal Republic of Germany aka West Germany.

[10] Signed on 3 September 1971 by the Soviet Union, the United States, Great Britain, and France.

Gaddafi describes Libya’s geopolitical position and requests arms, which Honecker agrees to provide. Gaddafi states that he financially supported the Iranian Revolution and intends to support movements in Angola, Zambia, and Mozambique as well. At Honecker’s suggestion, Gaddafi is willing to sign a “Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation” between their two countries.


Document Information


SAPMO-BA J IV/857. Contributed by Stefan Meining and translated by Bernd Schaefer.


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