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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Britain Expels Libyan Envoys; Recognizes Rebels

VOA News July 27, 2011

Britain has expelled all diplomats from Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's government and recognized the opposition Transitional National Council as Libya's legitimate authority.

Foreign Secretary William Hague said Wednesday the move is based on the opposition's increasing legitimacy, competency and success in reaching out to Libyans across the country. He said Britain will deal with the council just as it does governments all around the world.

Hague said the Transitional National Council (TNC) is working towards a more open and democratic Libya, which is in "stark contrast" to Gadhafi, whose "brutality" against the Libyan people has stripped him of legitimacy.

He also announced Britain is releasing $149 million in frozen Libyan assets to assist the Libyan people.

The United States, France and more than 30 other countries have recognized the Transitional National Council as Libya's interim government.

Britain's announcement came a day after Libyan TV showed the man convicted of the 1988 bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland, at a pro-Gadhafi rally in Tripoli.

Abdel Baset al-Megrahi returned to Libya after Scottish authorities released him from prison in 2009, due to health concerns.

Meanwhile, TNC chief Mustafa Abdel Jalil said Wednesday that the rebel group's offer for Gadhafi to step down and remain in the country has expired.

Jalil said the proposal, which was presented to a U.N. envoy about a month ago, had a deadline attached.

On Tuesday, Libya's prime minister said Mr. Gadhafi's departure was not up for discussion.

Al-Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi also said there will be no way to have dialogue on Libya's political crisis until what he called NATO "aggression" stops.

He commented after talks with U.N. special envoy Abdul Elah al-Khatib, who met with the Libyan opposition on Monday in Benghazi.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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