LONDON, Aug 1 (KUNA) -- British Foreign Secretary William Hague Monday said
five months of military action against Libya had been a success -- despite
leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi remaining in power.
Hague insisted the United Nations-backed air strikes saved "many thousands
of lives and stopped the destabilisation of Egypt and Tunisia."
He said: "What we have done so far has been a success in achieving the
objectives of saving civilian life. Now we want to see a political settlement
and that involves the departure of Colonel Gaddafi."
But Hague appeared to leave the door open for Col Gaddafi to remain in
Libya if he stands aside as leader - despite the International Criminal Court
previously issuing a warrant for his arrest.
"It's up to the people of Libya what happens in the end. We are not going
to stand in their way of an eventual solution," said the Foreign Secretary.
"But I also said, as did my colleague the French foreign minister, that ...
the best feature of any solution will be Col Gaddafi leaving Libya as well as
The UK Government, last week, officially recognised the Libyan rebels'
National Transitional Council (NTC) as the country's legitimate government,
inviting its representatives to move into the Libyan Embassy in London.
The Foreign Secretary said the move was essential for planning Libya's
future post-Gaddafi. And Hague denied splits among the countries backing Nato
air strikes in Libya, claiming: "The international community is united.
"No-one should mistake our determination and our unity in carrying this
through to success and that involves supporting the NTC."
Speaking to the BBC, he pledged Britain's backing to "follow through" the
mission in Libya."
But he admitted: "We don't know how long it will be. I have always resisted
saying how long. I have never put a forecast on it. We don't know when Col
Gaddafi will see that he has to go.
We don't know when members of his regime will come to that conclusion."
Meanwhile, Defence Secretary Liam Fox predicted Col Gaddafi would be
toppled by his "close circle" deserting him. Dr. Fox admitted the Libyan
rebels had "limited capacity" to win a lengthy ground war.
Speaking today before flying to meet his opposite number in Washington,
Leon Panetta, to discuss defence cuts and Libya, Dr. Fox conceded the rebels
had "always had limited capacity on the ground".
He said: "They are being assisted in terms of communications and their
logistics and making the best use of the equipment that they have.
"They may be getting equipment from elsewhere but they will still have
limited ground potential." (end)
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