CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY
I thank His Highness Sheikh Tamim and the Government of Qatar for hosting this important meeting. I welcome the fact we have such strong representation here today from regional organisations including the Arab League and the African Union. I want in particular to welcome His Excellency Mr Jean Ping, Chair of the African Union Commission. The African Union has a vital role to play in peace and security in Africa, and I welcome their participation.
We should be in no doubt: decisive action by the countries gathered around this table has saved thousands of lives in Benghazi and elsewhere in Libya. We have prevented Colonel Qadhafi’s forces from bombarding Libyan cities from the air, and we have stopped his troops from subjugating the entire country by brute force.
If Qadhafi had not been stopped it would have caused countless deaths and a humanitarian disaster, affected neighbouring countries and dealt a severe blow to aspirations for political and economic freedom across the region. The international community would have been condemned for failing to protect innocent life. And our own citizens would be asking why their governments did nothing while a pariah state was created on the southern edge of Europe. So we should be fortified by the knowledge that the action we are taking is necessary, it is legal and it is right.
Our military action is defined by UN Security Council Resolutions 1970 and 1973 which give us both legal and moral authority. We must continue to implement these Resolutions until there is an end to all attacks and abuses against civilians, a genuine and real ceasefire, the withdrawal of regime forces from cities and the full flow of humanitarian assistance to the people of Libya.
I would like to thank colleagues who attended the London Conference where we agreed the need for urgent humanitarian aid for Libya, called for a political process and set up this Contact Group.
Since then in Britain we have increased our efforts in support of the objectives of UN Security Council Resolutions 1970 and 1973:
- We have provided an additional four RAF Typhoon jets to coalition operations;
- We have provided non-lethal equipment to the Interim National Council to help protect civilian life;
- A relief ship carrying British-funded humanitarian supplies reached Misrata on 7th April;
- And our country has granted temporary admission to Foreign Minister Musa Kusa, helping those who wish to abandon the regime to do so.
As a Contact Group we have a mandate to provide leadership and overall political direction to efforts in Libya, and to act as a focal point for support for the Libyan people. The United Kingdom hopes that our discussions today we can agree three important objectives:
First, to maintain pressure on the Qadhafi regime, by implementing the UN Security Council Resolutions, enforcing UN and EU sanctions, and by making clear that Colonel Qadhafi must leave power so that the people of Libya can determine their own future.
Second, to agree how best to plan for stabilisation and peace building efforts in Libya. I look forward to hearing the UN Secretary General’s set out his views on this, as well as an update on the efforts of Special Representative Khatib.
And third, I hope we will agree to endorse the principles set out by the Interim National Council for a political process leading to a democratic Libya. We should also move forward quickly to ensure that nations wishing to support the Interim National Council in meeting its public sector costs can do so in a transparent manner. So I hope that we can agree to set up a Temporary Financial Mechanism in the region for the benefit of the INC controlled areas of Libya.
As we discuss these issues our resolve should be strong and our ambitions high. For if we are successful in this undertaking we will have saved lives, helped Libyans choose their own future and helped restore stability in a vital part of the world at a time of great crisis.