Press release

Number 10 Press Briefing - Morning For 15 September 2011

From the Prime Minister's spokesperson on: Libya.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Asked for more information on the £600m of Libyan assets that had been unfrozen, the Prime Minister’s Spokesperson (PMS) confirmed that there were significant assets in the UK in addition to Libyan bank notes, some of which had already been released.  He added that this was not all the Libyan assets held in the UK. The unfreezing of assets would be staged to reflect the process required by the last UN resolution.  Asked if there had been discussion with the NTC of what the assets would be used for, the PMS said this would be discussed during the visit, but for example resources were needed to pay public sector workers.

Asked for further details of the communications equipment the UK was providing, the PMS explained that it would be repeaters and antennae to help the Libyan police force better coordinate itself.

Asked whether the assistance with securing chemical agents stocks would include UK personnel, the PMS said that this would certainly include advice, but again how we would work with the NTC would be one of the issues likely to be discussed during the visit.

Asked for total numbers of UK personnel going to Tripoli, the PMS explained that we had a number of people already in Tripoli and this would be kept under review.  He added that it was important to remember that the NTC was leading efforts to deal with surface to air missiles, decommission weapons and secure any chemical stocks.  The UK was offering advice and support.

Asked for more information on Libya’s chemical stocks, the PMS said that Libya held some chemical agents such as sulphur mustard.  He explained that our understanding was that these stocks were in a secure location and not weaponised. During the last decade there had been a process of decommissioning chemical weapons, which had started with weaponised chemical weapons which represented a more immediate and more serious threat, but there were still some raw materials in the country.

Asked when he expected injured Libyans to start arriving in UK hospitals, the PMS confirmed this would be happening very soon. 

Asked for more details on the UN resolution expected tomorrow, the PMS explained that the draft resolution being discussed reflected the changed situation in the country.  It would allow us to do things like unfreeze assets in a more straightforward way.

Asked about the impact of events on the Yvonne Fletcher and Megrahi situations, the PMS reiterated that the Prime Minister has always been very clear that he did not agree with the decision taken by the Scottish Government to free Megrahi.  He added that the Prime Minister has already raised the Yvonne Fletcher case with the NTC while in Paris and they had indicated their willingness to cooperate.

Asked if the PM has spoken to President Zuma or others about the resolution, the PMS explained that the Government had been working through the UN in New York and the Foreign Office had been making necessary contacts.

Published 15 September 2011