Libya conflict at 'crucial point': British minister

21st August 2011, Comments 0 comments

British Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt said Sunday that the Libyan conflict was now at "an extraordinarily crucial point", saying an uprising in Tripoli had "plainly started".

But as rebels closed in on the Libyan capital, Burt said it was very difficult to predict what would happen next, and added that he was not aware of any detailed negotiations taking place about leader Moamer Kadhafi's departure.

"What is clear is that an uprising in Tripoli, which was always going to happen when people felt that there was an opportunity being produced by the efforts outside Tripoli to make it safe to rise against the Kadhafi regime, that has plainly started," the minister told Sky News television.

"But nobody knows quite how difficult this will be, how dug in the Kadhafi forces are, or to what extent they will realise that the game is up and they, like other senior commanders, will defect.

"But we are obviously at an extraordinarily crucial point in this desperate fight for freedom by the Libyan people."

Britain is at the forefront of an international bombing campaign over Libya, which was authorised by the United Nations to protect civilians in the fighting.

Burt said the coalition was "prepared for different scenarios depending on what happens", but stressed it was "very difficult" to predict what came next.

"The UN has been handling any possible negotiations with Kadhafi about his leaving and I don't think at this stage those discussions are taking place," he said.

He added: "I'm not aware of any detailed negotiations taking place about a Kadhafi departure or anything like that at present."

© 2011 AFP

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