Thu, Jul 28, 2011 - Page 6 News List

Britain recognizes Libyan rebels as government: Hague

EMBASSY SHIFT:After expelling Qaddafi’s staff in London, the UK said it was inviting the Libyan rebel council to appoint an envoy and take over

AFP and Reuters, LONDON

Britain has expelled all remaining staff at the Libyan embassy in London and recognized the country’s rebel council as its sole legitimate government, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said yesterday.

The National Transitional Council (NTC) is also being invited to take over the Libyan embassy in London, which has until now been occupied by diplomats loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, Hague told a news conference in London.

“The prime minister and I have decided that the United Kingdom recognizes and will deal with the National Transitional Council as the sole governmental authority in Libya,” Hague said at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

“This decision reflects the National Transitional Council’s increasing legitimacy, competence and success in reaching out to Libyans across the country,” he told reporters.

“In line with that decision we summoned the Libyan charge d’affaires to the Foreign Office today and informed him that he and the other regime diplomats from the Qaddafi regime must leave the UK,” Hague said.

“We no longer recognize them as the representatives of the Libyan government,” he said.

Britain is one of the lead nations in a Western alliance that has been carrying out an aerial campaign against Qaddafi’s regime since March.

On Monday Hague reiterated Britain’s demands for Qaddafi to step down, but said the Libyan leader might be allowed to remain in the country in an apparent shift in London’s position.

Britain expelled the Libyan ambassador in May following attacks on the British embassy in Tripoli and has also already kicked out several Libyan diplomats, including the country’s military attache.

It has no diplomatic representation in Tripoli, but a Foreign Office special representative is based in the eastern rebel stronghold of Benghazi, where the NTC is based.

“We will deal with the NTC on the same basis as other governments around the world,” Hague said. “We are inviting the National Transitional Council to appoint a new Libyan diplomatic envoy to take over the Libyan embassy in London.”

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