» Monday, March 7, 2011


Asked if the Prime Minister had any views on the group of UK diplomats sent to Libya and how the operation had been handled, the PMS said that the Foreign Secretary had made a statement last night and would be making a further statement in the House this afternoon, outlining the range of work that was being undertaken by the Government.

Asked if the Government was embarrassed by what had happened, the PMS said that we had been clear in recent days that we were seeking to establish contact with opposition figures, which we would continue to do.

Asked why we had decided to go into Libya the way we did, the PMS said that he was not going to get into the operational aspects of this, but we had confirmed that a diplomatic team was in Benghazi and it was our intention to send a further team in due course. Our objective was to strengthen and deepen dialogue with opposition figures and to understand better the position on the ground.

Asked if the Prime Minister had backed the operation, the PMS said that the decision had been taken in the normal way; the Foreign Secretary took the decision, but the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary had obviously been talking about this issue over the past week and throughout that time our objective had remained to strengthen and deepen our relationships with opposition figures, and improve our understanding of the situation on the ground.

Asked if there had been a diplomatic presence in Benghazi before the uprising in Libya had started, the PMS said that he thought there may have been some presence there as it was Libya’s second city.

Asked why those diplomats had left, the PMS said that we took the decision to pull out our diplomatic staff the Saturday before last, given the situation on the ground at that time. We had a duty of care to our staff and we took that very seriously.

Asked what the Prime Minister’s thoughts were on the Foreign Office’s handling of the situation in Libya, the PMS said that it was a very difficult and complicated situation at the present time. We were effective in getting British nationals out and in helping lots of people from other countries. We had been doing a lot of work to support the humanitarian effort, and we had been taking a lead internationally to bring pressure on the regime. We had made significant strides on that front, for example there was a very swift response from the UN, and the quickest ever response from the EU in terms of sanctions.

original source.

Briefing took place at 10:00 | Search for related news

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