Asked for clarification on the Government’s position on Colonel Gaddafi being tried for war crimes, the PMS replied that the position had been set out this morning by the Foreign Secretary. As the Foreign Secretary had said, we believed that if people had committed crimes and the prosecutor had information on them, then they should be put before the international court. The PMS said that was the situation as set out in UN Security Council resolution 1970. The Foreign Secretary had also made the point that we were not fully in control of the situation in Libya and that ultimately, these were issues for the Libyan people.
Put that the coalition forces were in control of where Colonel Gaddafi went as borders had been closed and a no-fly zone had been put in place, the PMS said that the Foreign Secretary had been making the point that we were not in complete control of the situation and ultimately, the arbiters of this needed to be the Libyan people.
Put that the UK Government would not facilitate Colonel Gaddafi going to a third country, the PMS said that we had set out our position very clearly. We had drafted, put forward and voted for the UN Security Council resolution. We had wanted to see that resolution adopted, because it was important that people understood that there were consequences to their actions.
Asked why the conference was going ahead without members of the transitional council being present, the PMS replied that the council members were here today and their views would be reflected at the meeting. We would not be discussing what the solution should be and how to impose it on the people of Libya; we would be discussing how the international community could best support the process of transition and create the room for the Libyan people to do that.
On whether Dr Jabril was being singled out as the next potential leader of Libya, the PMS replied that we had been clear throughout on this; we were talking to a whole range of opposition figures in that country and that’s what we would continue to do. The PMS said that the main group that had come forward was the Interim Transitional National Council and we were talking to them and finding out what their objectives were.
Asked about President Obama’s comments last night where he had said that the US was not backing regime change, the PMS said that the objective of military action was clearly set out in the Security Council resolution 1973, and that was the protection of the civilian population, not regime change.
The PMS said that it was also our position that we thought Colonel Gaddafi should go and we could not see a democratic future for Libya which involved Colonel Gaddafi.
Asked if there was clarity on the military rules of engagement, the PMS said that NATO had agreed standard rules of engagement. On how long the Coalition would engage in military action for, the PMS said that we had objectives and the military actions were designed to meet those objectives.
Put that there was a suggestion that there could be another country joining the Coalition, the PMS replied that if countries were going to make contributions militarily, then it was down to those countries to make those announcements. One of the objectives of today’s conference was to broaden and strengthen the coalition of countries.
Asked about an oil company putting on hold a project in the North Sea due to a measure in the Budget that increased tax on oil production, the PMS advised people to speak to the Treasury.