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UK welcomes Jalil as "legitimate" Libyan representative

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

London, May 12, IRNA -- Foreign Secretary William Hague Thursday welcomed a visit to Britain by the leader of the Benghazi-based rebel National Transitional Council (NTC) Mustafa Abdul Jalil as the “legitimate representative of the Libyan people.”

“We will discuss a range of issues, including the establishment of a permanent NTC office in London and the provision of further non-lethal equipment and support to the NTC,” Hague said.

Although the British government does not officially recognize (the interim) government, it has already effectively endorsed the NTC by posting diplomats and a team of military advisers to Banghazi while closing down its embassy in Tripoli.

In its campaign to overthrow the regime of Muammar Gaddafi, the UK has also expelled eight Libyan diplomats from London, including the ambassador and the military attaché.

Jalil, a former justice minister under Gaddafi, was previously in London when Britain hosted an international conference on Libya's future in March but was not invited to attend.

During his current visit, he is also meeting Prime Minister David Cameron, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne and International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell as well as the foreign secretary.

Hague said that the situation in Libya remains of “very serious concern” and that the visit provides a welcome opportunity to discuss with Jalil “the latest situation on the ground and to look at how the UK and international community can continue to support the Libyan people.“

“We will explore in more detail the measures agreed at last week’s Contact Group meeting in Rome, including the operation of a Transitional Financial Mechanism, which was driven by the UK,” he said.

“We will also share views on the situation in Western Libya, which remains deeply troubling. Colonel Qadhafi continues to brutalise his own people. The British Government urges him to stand down immediately and initiate a real ceasefire, so that the legitimate needs of Libya’s people can be met”, he added.

At a recent cabinet meeting, Hague gave an upbeat assessment of Britain's involvement in the NATO-led military intervention in Libya but warned that it could be a “long haul.”

But critics have warned of “mission creep” in Libya and accused the British government of continually re-interpreting UN Secretary Council Resolution 1973 to protect civilian lives.

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