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Foreign Secretary discusses Libya and Cote d’Ivoire

Foreign Secretary William Hague today discussed the latest developments in Libya and Cote d’Ivoire on the Andrew Marr Show.

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On Libya he made clear there will be no ground invasion of the country. He said:

“We’re sticking very closely here to the United Nations resolution… which makes very clear there must be no foreign occupation of any part of Libya and we will stick to that. There have already been circumstances in which we’ve sent small special forces in to Libya. We rescued people from the desert a few weeks ago as you will remember through doing that. So circumstances can arise where limit, such limited operations take place, but there is going to be no large scale ground force placed in Libya by the United Kingdom.”

He also reiterated that there had been no decision to arm rebels in Libya noting:

“We have taken no decision to arm the rebels, the opposition, the pro democracy people, whatever one wants to call them and I’m not aware of any of our allies taking the decision to do that. What we are engaged in is protecting the civilian population in Libya, which we have done with a lot of success… when people look at what we’re doing in Libya they do have to look at what would be happening if we didn’t do what we’d done over the last few weeks and it would have been a catastrophic situation.”

The Foreign Secretary confirmed that he had spoken to Musa Kusa since his resignation and added that Musa Kusa was not under arrest and had arrived in the UK of his own free. He said:

“I have spoken to him briefly, and I spoke to him regularly when he was in Tripoli so it would be very odd if I didn’t speak to him now. I welcomed the fact that he had left the Gaddafi regime. I said I thought that was the right thing to do. I asked him to have discussions with my officials, which is indeed what he is now doing.”

“I formed the view over quite a few conversations with him when he was still in place as Libyan Foreign Minister that he was very distressed by what was happening in Libya, that he wanted to see a peaceful solution, that he was very deeply concerned about what’s happening to the people of Libya. And I think when somebody like that says they want to get out then it would be quite wrong to say no you’ve got to stay there.”

He also reiterated that Musa Kusa would not be offered immunity from prosecution and set out why it was a good thing that Musa Kusa had chosen to come to the UK. He said that he intended to give a statement to Parliament tomorrow and said:

“The Prime Minister and I have made clear there’s no immunity from prosecution, there will be no immunity. He hasn’t asked for that. There isn’t a deal. I know there were reports in one or two papers today of a deal. There is no deal. All he asked for was to be able to come here. He chose to come to the United Kingdom of his own free will. It is a good thing that he has left this despotic murderous regime because it weakens that regime. It’s a good thing we’re able to discuss with him the situation in, in Libya and the Middle East with of course all his experience of it. And it is a good thing, where the, the Crown Office in Scotland wish to talk to him about what’s happened in the past, such as at Lockerbie, well then my officials are discussing with the Crown Office tomorrow how to go about that.”

Finally on Libya the Foreign Secretary emphasised that the International Community supported Libya’s territorial integrity. He said:

“The whole international community supports the territorial integrity of Libya and it’s very much the desire of the opposition in Libya to have a united country. I think it’s very much the desire of most people in the regime actually from talking to Musa Kusa in the past, so that’s not where people in Libya want to go. And let’s be clear that if the Libyan regime tries to hang on in this situation they are internationally isolated, they can’t sell any oil, there is no way forward for them, there is no future for Libya on that basis. And so I think even the prospect of a kind of stalemate that you’re talking about could encourage people in Tripoli to think well Colonel Gaddafi has now got to go.”

On Cote d’Ivoire the Foreign Secretary also made clear that the International Community has been working to support African nations in ending the violence and resolving the current crisis. He said:

“We’ve been working in the European Union and the United Nations to tighten the sanctions on Mr Gbagbo, the defeated President who refuses to leave, which is what, what has caused this violence. So we are involved in what is happening in Cote d’Ivoire.”

“Here the African Union have taken a lead and the West African states in particular have taken a lead and they want to be in lead. It’s a different case from Libya where the Arab league called on the world, called on the United Nations to become involved and to save civilians from being attacked by the Gaddafi regime. In Cote d’Ivoire it’s very much the mood of the African nations that they should be in the lead. But as in Libya we call on people to desist from crimes and abuses, it’s important the International Criminal Court is able to examine in the future what has happened in Cote d’Ivoire and we renew our call for Gbagbo to get out which would stop this violence.”

Diplomatic team visits Benghazi

Separately, a Foreign Office spokesperson today said:

“A further diplomatic team led by Christopher Prentice arrived in Benghazi on 2 April to engage with key figures including the Interim National Council. It will build on the work of the previous team and seek to establish further information about the INC, its aims and more broadly what is happening in Libya”.

Published 3 April 2011