British minister talks with Libyan opposition general

2nd March 2011, Comments 0 comments

Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague held telephone talks Wednesday with General Abdel Fatah Yunis, the former Libyan interior minister who defected, about the situation on the ground, London said.

Britain is making efforts to strengthen contacts with opposition figures in the rebellion against Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi's 41-year rule.

Yunis gained respect among many protesters after he defected to their side during the fighting in the northeastern city of Benghazi.

"They discussed the latest situation on the ground in Libya, the impact on Libyans and the provision of international humanitarian assistance," a Foreign Office spokesman said.

The general asked Hague about planning for a no-fly zone, the spokesman said.

"The foreign secretary said that the UK was deeply concerned about the violence and was in the process of contingency planning for all eventualities, including a no-fly zone, in close conjunction with its allies," he said.

Libyan rebels said Tuesday they have formed a military council in the Benghazi in what could be a step towards creating a unified nationwide force against Kadhafi, but Yunis is not a member.

The Foreign Office said attempts to contact opposition figures were being managed by Britain's ambassador to Tripoli, who is now based in London after the embassy in the Libyan capital was shut down.

British Prime Minister David Cameron has instructed his military chiefs to look into the possibility of establishing a no-fly zone over Libya.

"We should also be making contact with, getting a greater understanding of, the opposition forces that are now in Benghazi," Cameron said Tuesday.

"We are trying to step up our contact with them so we can know them better and what their intentions are."

© 2011 AFP

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