Hague wants 'tempo' of Libya military operation increased

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Media captionWilliam Hague: "Time is against Gaddafi"

The "tempo" of the Nato military operation in Libya should be increased, Foreign Secretary William Hague says.

Mr Hague said more nations had contributed aircraft for ground attacks and pressure should be intensified on Col Muammar Gaddafi.

Western and Arab ministers meeting in Rome have agreed to channel more funds to the Libyan rebels.

Meanwhile, the UK has expelled two more Libyan diplomats from the country for "unacceptable" behaviour.

Mr Hague said: "The tempo of the military action should continue to be increased as it has been increasing in recent days."

But he said the meeting in Rome agreed that the action should not include directly arming the rebel groups fighting Col Gaddafi's forces.

"What came through from this meeting was the united determination to intensify the military pressure, the diplomatic pressure, and the economic pressure on Gaddafi's regime", he said.

The Libya Contact group, which includes Nato members, Arab states and international groups, agreed to provide more money for rebel groups.

Mr Hague said there were also discussions about taking Libyan state television off the air, and preventing the Gaddafi regime exporting oil.

"This is all part of tightening that economic and diplomatic pressure on a regime that has now lost all legitimacy in the eyes of the world", he said.

Persona non grata

Earlier on Thursday, two more Libyan diplomats were expelled from the UK because of "unacceptable" behaviour.

The Libyan ambassador to the UK was expelled on 1 May after an attack on the British embassy in Tripoli.

"I ordered the expulsion of the two diplomats on the basis that their activities were contrary to the interests of the UK", the foreign secretary said in a statement.

He added: "I judged that the behaviour of these individuals had become unacceptable, and that they should therefore be declared persona non grata."

The Foreign Office did not give details of the behaviour which led to the expulsions, but said there had not been any immediate threat to UK security.

'Invaluable support'

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Defence has given more details of the military role which Britain has played in Nato's Operation Unified Protector in Libya.

Image caption The Royal Navy's HMS Brocklesby destroyed a mine laid by pro-Gaddafi forces in the port of Misrata

The MoD said that on Tuesday, RAF aircraft attacked two multiple rocket launchers near the town of Sirte, and destroyed an armoured personnel carrier and two artillery pieces which were attacking Misrata.

On Wednesday, a Tornado and a Typhoon jet attacked two surface-to-air missile launchers near Tripoli.

"UK Armed Forces have continued to make a significant contribution... to protect Libyan civilians under threat of attack", said Maj Gen John Lorimer, spokesman for the Chief of the Defence Staff.

He said RAF support aircraft, including VC-10 tankers and Sentinel, Sentry and Nimrod R1 surveillance aircraft, had continued to provide "invaluable support" to both British and international military jets.

The Royal Navy says HMS Brocklesby, a specialist mine-clearance ship, has destroyed a mine laid by pro-Gaddafi forces in the approaches to the port of Misrata.

Officials say the port has now been cleared of mines, and HMS Brocklesby and other vessels will continue to monitor the area.

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