Number 10 Press Briefing - Afternoon For 15 September 2011
From the Prime Minister's spokesperson on: Libya, Palestine.
Asked if the Prime Minister was returning tonight and if President Sarkozy and the Prime Minister had travelled together, the PMS said, he was returning tonight but they had met there this morning.
Asked if the Transitional National Council (TNC) was still based in Benghazi, the PMS said they were still based in Benghazi but their intention was to get into Tripoli soon.
Asked if the Prime Minister was meeting the TNC in Benghazi, the PMS said he had meetings with the leadership in Tripoli this morning and they were there at the press conference.
Asked why the Prime Minister had gone to Libya and what it was all about, the PMS said the primary purpose of that trip was to meet with the TNC to demonstrate and offer them our support in the process of transition.
Asked about discussions about a new Security Council Resolution, the PMS said it was to be discussed at the UN that day. It was a new resolution which reflected the progress that had been made in Libya and it would do things such as putting in place a much more straightforward and simple process for unfreezing of Libyan assets, which at the moment had to be done by unanimous agreement.
Asked if it referred to assets all around the world or assets in the UK, the PMS said the draft text referred back to the previous Security Council resolutions, 1970 and 1973. It would put in place an easier process for unfreezing the assets frozen by those resolutions.
Put that there was criticism that the UK was being slow off the mark in securing business opportunities in Libya, PMS said that there was quite a lot to be done to stabilise the country and the situation there, but it was true that getting businesses working again and getting the economy growing again would be important for the stabilisation of Libya. If you looked at some of the things we were discussing at the UN, one was to lift the no fly zone so that at some point commercial aircraft would be able to operate again and that would help support the Libyan economy. One of the other things we were working on was decommissioning surface-to-air missiles, which was also important so that commercial flights could start to operate safely.
If you went back to the start of the Arab Spring, some of the fundamental issues people were complaining about were economic. We would certainly be looking at the issue of trade and that would involve trade between Libya and the UK, but there were other priorities to support the process of stabilisation.
Asked about the Palestinian bid to be recognised as a state and whether Britain would support it, the PMS said our position was that we would want to look at the detail of the proposal but would be guided by whatever we thought best supported the Middle East peace process.