Britain recognises Libyan rebels as government: Hague

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Britain has expelled all remaining staff at the Libyan embassy in London and recognised the country's rebel council as its sole legitimate government, Foreign Secretary William Hague said Wednesday.

The National Transitional Council (NTC) is also being invited to take over the Libyan embassy in London, which has until now been occupied by diplomats loyal to Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi, Hague told a news conference in London.

"The prime minister and I have decided that the United Kingdom recognises and will deal with the National Transitional Council as the sole governmental authority in Libya," Hague said at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

"In line with that decision we summmoned the Libyan charge d'affaires to the Foreign Office today and informed him that he and the other regime diplomats from the Kadhafi regime must leave the UK."

"We no longer recognise them as the representatives of the Libyan government."

Britain is one of the lead nations in a Western alliance that has been carrying out an aerial campaign against Kadhafi's regime since March.

On Monday Hague reiterated Britain's demands for Kadhafi to step down but said the Libyan leader may be allowed to remain in the North African country in an apparent shift in London's position.

Britain expelled the Libyan ambassador in May following attacks on the British embassy in Tripoli, and has also already kicked out several Libyan diplomats including the country's military attache.

It has no diplomatic representation in Tripoli but a Foreign Office special representative is based in the eastern rebel stronghold of Benghazi where the NTC is based.

"We will deal with the NTC on the same basis as other governments around the world," Hague said.

"We are inviting the National Transitional Council to appoint a new Libyan diplomatic envoy to take over the Libyan embassy in London."

© 2011 AFP

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