________________________________________________________________________ Libya scoffs at U.S. tunnel report ____________________________________________________________________________ Copyright ) 1997 Nando.net Copyright ) 1997 Agence France-Presse TRIPOLI (December 4, 1997 10:41 a.m. EST http://www.nando.net) - Libya on Thursday dismissed U.S. press reports that it is developing a subterranean network of tunnels in the Libyan desert to use for moving troops and equipment. "The American media has made it a habit of playing this broken record that the world is now refusing to listen to," wrote the commentator of the official news agency JANA, accusing the United States of publishing "false allegations." Tuesday's New York Times reported that Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi was building a 2,000-mile network of pipes as much as 13 feet in diameter from Tunisia to Egypt. It quoted engineers who said it was designed for a "clandestine military purpose." But Libya says the tunnels are part of its "Great Man-Made River" project to tap water from underground aquifers around its vast territory and transport it to populated areas for use as drinking water or for irrigation. They deny the project has any military purpose. Pentagon spokesman Michael Doubleday agreed. "At this point, I am aware of no evidence that this pipeline is anything but an irrigation project," he said. "But again, we're going to continue to follow it because it's a very large project." The JANA commentator said the publication of the allegations was a "flagrant attempt" to put pressure on European countries because of recent developments in their cooperation with the Libyan regime, but he did not elaborate.
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