UK

William Hague reopens Britain's embassy in Tripoli, Libya

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Media captionForeign Secretary William Hague says Libya's NTC must act with "moral authority"

Foreign Secretary William Hague has reopened Britain's embassy in Tripoli during a visit to the Libyan capital.

Sir John Jenkins has been appointed the new British ambassador to Libya.

Mr Hague also held talks with National Transitional Council head Mustafa Abdel Jalil, offering a package of support and raising claims of prisoner abuse.

The UK closed its embassy in February, as rebels fought pro-Gaddafi forces. Residents angry at Nato air strikes set the embassy building alight in May.

The Libyan ambassador in London was ordered to leave the UK on 1 May following the attack.

A small team of diplomats arrived in Tripoli at the end of August after National Transitional Council fighters seized the city from pro-Gaddafi troops.

'Watershed' in relations

Before he met Mr Jalil, Mr Hague visited the charred embassy building, where the Union Jack was raised. Embassy staff will not initially operate from the site, which is expected to take about two years to repair. The UK also has a diplomatic office in Benghazi.

Speaking after his meeting with the NTC chairman, Mr Hague said the reopening of the embassy marked "a watershed" in Britain's relations with Libya.

Image caption Mr Hague offered Libya a package of support

"This is further recognition of the great progress the National Transitional Council has made in stabilising Libya and re-establishing the country's role as a full member of the international community.

"The Libyan people's decisive break with the past means we are now able to open a new era in UK-Libya relations, building on our military, political, diplomatic and humanitarian support to the Libyan people during their revolution," he said.

Mr Hague announced in July that Britain would recognise the Libyan rebel council as the "sole governmental authority" in Libya.

But BBC correspondent Caroline Hawley says there is a political vacuum in Libya with rival militias sometimes working alongside each other. Although Britain is calling its special envoy an ambassador, there is not yet an official government for him to present his credentials to, she says.

The package of support outlined by Mr Hague included:

  • Offering rehabilitation and prosthetics care to up to 50 Libyans injured in the conflict
  • Providing further support for de-mining work by the UN Mine Actions Service
  • Providing UK experts on policing civil society and public financial management
  • Delivering to Libya the final shipment of Libyan banknotes frozen in the UK

Fighting between forces loyal to the NTC and pro-Gaddafi troops is continuing in the towns of Sirte and Bani Walid. Col Gaddafi's whereabouts remain unknown.

Mr Hague is due to arrive in Morocco later, on his first official visit there as foreign secretary. He will hold talks with Foreign Minister Fassi Fihri and launch a series of Arab Partnership projects, aimed at "supporting political participation and tackling corruption".

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