Kadhafi aide in Britain for secret talks: reports

1st April 2011, Comments 0 comments

A Libyan envoy held secret talks in London with the British government on a possible exit plan for Moamer Kadhafi, reports said Friday, as Britain insisted it would only accept the leader's departure.

Britain's Foreign Office refused to confirm or deny the reports in British media that Mohammed Ismail, a key aide to Kadhafi's powerful son Saif al-Islam, met with British officials in London.

"We are not going to provide a running commentary on our contacts with Libyan officials," a spokeswoman said.

"In any contact that we do have, we make it clear that Kadhafi has to go."

Prime Minister David Cameron's Downing Street office refused to comment.

The Guardian newspaper, which first broke the story, said the meeting was one of a number between the two nations in the last two weeks, and is believed to have addressed the possibility of an exit strategy for Kadhafi.

Despite a low profile in Libya and internationally, Ismail is a key aide to British-educated Saif al-Islam and represented the nation in arms purchase negotiations, cables leaked on the WikiLeaks website revealed.

The BBC said it was unclear on whose authority Ismail's visit was made but added that he had returned to Tripoli.

A report in The Times however quoted government sources as playing down the idea that Ismail had a message from Kadhafi or wanted to explore a way out, saying that he was on a family visit.

British officials sent him back with a message for Kadhafi, it said.

The reports of the visit came shortly after Kadhafi's foreign minister, Mussa Kussa, unexpectedly flew into an airport southwest of London on Wednesday night and announced he was quitting his post.

Britain said it had not offered Kussa immunity following his arrival and urged other members of Kadhafi's "crumbling" regime to quit.

The Foreign Office spokeswoman told AFP on Friday that British officials including diplomats formerly based at the British embassy in Tripoli were continuing to speak to Kussa, but gave no further details.

It added that it was still investigating reports that the deputy head of Libya's embassy in London had also resigned.

Britain is in contact with up to 10 leading Libyan officials about following Kussa's lead, The Independent newspaper reported.

© 2011 AFP

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