Britain re-establishes diplomatic mission in Tripoli

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Britain re-established a diplomatic mission in Tripoli Monday some six months after having closed its embassy in Libya's capital at the start of the revolt against Moamer Kadhafi, the foreign ministry said.

"Britain has re-established a diplomatic mission in Tripoli," said Foreign Secretary William Hague in a statement.

"A diplomatic team, lead by acting UK Special Representative Dominic Asquith, arrived in Tripoli today on an RAF (British air force) flight."

The team includes staff from the Foreign Office and from the Department for International Development, who are joining a small foreign ministry advance party deployed to Tripoli last week, said the statement.

Prime Minister David Cameron announced on August 22 that a diplomatic presence would be reestablished in Tripoli as soon as it was safe.

Hague said the arrival of the team was "another significant step in the UK's relations with the new Libya, and reflects the progress the NTC (Libya's new ruling National Transitional Council) has made in improving security and stability on the ground.

"It will help strengthen relations with the NTC authorities and support their efforts to rebuild Libya.

"The team will also liaise with international organisations in order to help address humanitarian needs in Tripoli and the surrounding areas."

Britain was one of the first powers to launch military action over Libya in March alongside France and the United States under a UN mandate to protect civilians from veteran leader Kadhafi's forces.

After a six-month conflict, the rebels stormed into Tripoli on August 21 and overran Kadhafi's sprawling compound, although the strongman has not been captured.

In Libya on Monday, anti-Kadhafi forces waited outside the besieged town of Bani Walid, southeast of Tripoli, where fighters loyal to the former leader were holed up.

© 2011 AFP

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