Foreign Secretary William Hague met Chairman of the Libyan Interim National Transitional Council (NTC) Mustafa Abdul Jalil in London today.

Speaking after the meeting the Foreign Secretary said:

“I am delighted to welcome Chairman Abdul Jalil to London today and the Prime Minister was delighted to welcome him this morning. The challenge facing all of us in Libya remains grave and continues to be of huge importance to the British Government. We stand here today committed to standing by the people of Libya and unwavering in our resolve to protect them and to support their legitimate aspirations for a better future.

“The Chairman and I have discussed the continuing brutality inflicted on the Libyan people by Qadhafi. What we continue to witness in Misrata and the stories we’ve heard from those affected across Libya show that we need to continue to work militarily, politically and economically in support of the UN Security Council resolutions.

“This was a message sent clearly by the Contact Group in Rome last week, Qadhafi should realise in our view that time is against him and it is the National Transitional Council that is the legitimate interlocutor representative of the Libyan people in stark contrast to Qadhafi and his regime who have lost all legitimacy.

“Over the last few months the National Transitional Council have made great progress, today we have welcomed their clear commitments to build a better future for Libya based on principles of openness and tolerance. We have invited them to open a mission in London; this is an important statement of our engagement and our commitment to deepen our relationship. It will improve our ability to communicate with the National Transitional Council leadership and complement the work undertaken by our own office in Benghazi.

“We’ve decided to strengthen that office further by appointing a new permanent head of the office, John Jenkins, who will arrive in Benghazi shortly. In addition I have informed Mr Jalil of our intention to provide more support to help the protection of civilians, this will include further communications equipment, bullet proof vests and uniforms for the civilian police authorities. All these items have been requested by the National Transitional Council and will help them ensure that they administer territory under their control to international standards and protect the aspirations of the Libyan people.

“The United Kingdom has also been at the forefront of efforts to support the NTC financially including by setting up a Temporary Financial Mechanism (TFM) which will soon come on stream. This shows the wide involvement of Arab states and European states in this, shows the broad nature of the coalition. We have also agreed the importance of continuing to target Qadhafi’s forces and command and control centres to protect civilians and the UK will continue to push for this at NATO. The tempo of strikes and military pressure will continue to increase.

“Finally we have reiterated that the UK will remain at the forefront of the humanitarian operations to prevent a humanitarian crisis in Libya. In Misrata alone British support has given ten thousand people food, two thousand families water and hygiene kits and evacuated five thousand people.

“The situation in Libya is one of deep concern but today’s meetings have fuelled our faith in the British Government that Libya will embrace a better future for its people. The NTC has already pulled together an interim administration, it has already begun to provide services in liberated areas and it has started to plan for democratic transition after Qadhafi has gone.

“Chairman Abdul Jalil knows, of course, that all of these things are difficult but his commitment is inspired and the United Kingdom will stand by him and his colleagues in this endeavour as the Libyan people have so bravely stood up to Qadhafi.”

The NTC chair also met with Prime Minister David Cameron who during the meeting invited leaders of the Council to establish a formal office in London, as fighting in Libya continued.

He said the UK presence in Benghazi would also be boosted.

“These steps continue our very clear intention to work with the council to ensure Libya has a safe and stable future, free from the tyranny of the Qadhafi regime.”

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Speaking ahead of the visit, Foreign Secretary William Hague said:

“I am very pleased to welcome Mr Abdul Jalil to the UK. The NTC is a legitimate representative of the Libyan people. The situation in Libya remains of very serious concern, and this visit provides a welcome opportunity to discuss with Mr Abdul Jalil the latest situation on the ground and to look at how the UK and international community can continue to support the Libyan people.

“We will discuss a range of issues, including the establishment of a permanent NTC office in London and the provision of further non-lethal equipment and support to the NTC.

“We will explore in more detail the measures agreed at last week’s Contact Group meeting in Rome, including the operation of a Transitional Financial Mechanism, which was driven by the UK. The Transitional Financial Mechanism comes into operation today and will allow the NTC to provide essential services to the people of Libya.

“We will also share views on the situation in Western Libya, which remains deeply troubling. Colonel Qadhafi continues to brutalise his own people. The British Government urges him to stand down immediately and initiate a real ceasefire, so that the legitimate needs of Libya’s people can be met”.