Wednesday, 13 April 2011

UK Foreign Secretary speaks prior to flight to Qatar

[What follows are excerpts from a report on the BBC News website on an interview with Foreign Secretary William Hague prior to his departure for the gathering in Doha.]

The UK cannot put a timescale on its involvement in the conflict in Libya, the foreign secretary has said.

William Hague told the BBC it was not possible to predict when the operation would end but said air strikes "saved thousands of lives" and Col Muammar Gaddafi's rule "has no future". (...)

He and other delegates are meeting in Qatar to discuss Libya, amid calls for Nato to intensify its campaign.

Speaking on his way to the talks, Mr Hague told BBC Radio 4's Today programme "Are we able to say which week these things will come to an end? Of course not, because it is a fast-moving and unpredictable situation.

"But I think it is clear that the Gaddafi regime has no future... the question is how and when it unravels."

He also spoke of the effect which Nato air strikes have had so far, insisting that this should not be underestimated.

"Thousands of lives have been saved in places like Benghazi and possibly in Misrata," he said.

"We would now be looking at a pariah state completely under the control of Col Gaddafi, destabilising an already unstable Middle East, if we had not taken the action we have taken."

Former Libyan foreign minister Moussa Koussa, who fled to the UK late last month, is among those attending the talks.

He is due to meet rebels and the Qatari government on the sidelines of the talks and offer "insights" on the current situation in Libya, according to British officials.

Mr Koussa is a former head of Libyan intelligence and has been accused of being involved in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing.

The foreign secretary defended the decision to let Mr Koussa travel to the summit.

Mr Hague said: "We behave according to the law. The matter of arrests is for prosecuting authorities and police; that is not for ministers to decide.

"He is not detained; he came here of his own volition. If he was under arrest, he wouldn't be allowed to leave."

[The following are two paragraphs from a report just published on the CNN website:]

Among the high-profile attendees in Doha is Gadhafi's former intelligence chief and foreign minister, Moussa Koussa, who fled to Britain last month. It's unclear how opposition leaders will receive Koussa's efforts in Doha.

On Tuesday, Abdel Hafiz Ghoga, deputy chairman of Libya's Transitional National Council, did not explicitly reject the idea of meeting Koussa but said such a meeting was "not on the agenda."

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