Britain unmoved by secret Libya files find

3rd September 2011, Comments 0 comments

British Foreign Secretary William Hague refused to be drawn Saturday on reported secret files detailing the closeness of ties between London and Tripoli, saying they related to the previous government.

British and US intelligence cooperated closely with Tripoli, with prisoners being offered to leader Moamer Kadhafi's regime under the rendition programme, a report said Saturday citing files found in the Libyan capital.

Hague was speaking to Britain's Sky News television from a meeting of European Union foreign ministers in Sopot, Poland.

Asked what he made of the disclosures, Hague replied: "Nothing, actually, because first of all what we're engaged on is the task of what happens next in Libya, which is a huge task.

"On the subect of these apparent disclosures, they related to a period under the previous government so I have no knowledge of what was happening behind the scenes at that time.

"I can't comment on intelligence matters on that or any other aspect of intelligence matters because, as people understand, once we start on that there's no end to that.

"What we're focused on is getting the necessary help to Libya, more recognition for the National Transitional Council, getting the assets unfrozen so we avert any humanitarian problems in Libya.

"These are actually the big issues which we're dealing with as European foreign ministers now."

A Foreign Office spokeswoman told AFP: "It is the long-standing policy of the government not to comment on intelligence matters."

British newspaper The Independent said the documents, reportedly found at a Libyan government building, showed that Britain passed details of exiled opponents to Kadhafi's spies.

The cache further shows that it was the office of former British prime minister Tony Blair that requested that a 2004 meeting with Kadhafi in Tripoli should take place in a Bedouin tent, the daily said.

The Independent said the documents would raise questions about the ties that Britain and the United States forged with the Tripoli regime as Western powers tried to bring Libya out of isolation.

Britain's Conservative-Liberal governing coalition took office in May 2010, replacing Labour, who had been in power since 1997 under prime ministers Blair and Gordon Brown.

© 2011 AFP

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