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EU foreign ministers' meeting on Libya

The Foreign Secretary has attended a meeting to discuss responses to the "appalling and unacceptable actions" of the Qadhafi regime.

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The Foreign Secretary also discussed what humanitarian assistance the EU can provide; and how the EU can transform its relationship with the region in order to incentivise change and ensure effective spending of EU funds. 

Mr Hague said he was “appalled by the levels of violence” in the country and was in Brussels to “step-up pressure” to further isolate the regime in Libya.

He stressed that it was vital that the EU puts together a “bold, ambitious and historic plan for Libya” and worked on a coordinated basis with NATO contingency planning.

Asked about a French decision to give official recognition to the anti-Qadhafi opposition, he replied:

That leadership are legitimate people to talk to, of course. But we recognise states rather than groups within states. If they are legitimate people to discuss things with then it’s important that we do.

They will be a very important way to channel humanitarian assistance. We have already taken humanitarian assistance into Benghazi, so some of it will be channelled through them.

On no-fly zones, Mr Hague said:

It is very important that a no-fly zone has a demonstrable need that the world can see, that it has a clear legal base and that it has broad support within North Africa and the Middle East itself.

Those are the essential criteria.

Mr Hague also pointed out that existing economic sanctions against the regime had been extended from tomorrow to include Libya’s sovereign wealth fund and central bank and said that a fresh diplomatic mission would be sent to Benghazi “shortly”.

Defence Secretary Liam Fox was also in Brussels attending a scheduled meeting of NATO ministers of defence where the situation in Libya was top of the agenda.

Discussing the NATO meeting earlier this week, President Obama and the Prime Minister agreed that the common objective in Libya must be an immediate end to brutality and violence; the departure of Qadhafi from power as quickly as possible; and a transition that meets the Libyan peoples’ aspirations for freedom, dignity, and a representative government.

The Prime Minister will be travelling to Brussels tomorrow to discuss the European Union’s response to events in Libya and in the wider region.

Read more: Developments in Libya - European Council response.

Read more: NATO Defence Ministers’ meeting

Published 10 March 2011