British team in Libya to prepare reopening of embassy

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Britain has sent a small team of diplomats and technical staff to the Libyan capital Tripoli to prepare for reopening its embassy six months after it closed, the foreign ministry said Monday.

Prime Minister David Cameron announced on August 22 that a diplomatic presence would be reestablished in Tripoli as soon as it was safe, after the embassy was shut at the end of February as the Libyan uprising gathered pace.

"A small (Foreign and Commonwealth Office)-led team, consisting of diplomatic and technical staff, is now on the ground in Tripoli as part of the preparations for that wider diplomatic presence," said a Foreign Office statement.

It added: "No date has been set for the opening of the British embassy. This will depend on political and security developments over the coming days."

London's announcement came shortly after France said it had reopened its embassy in Tripoli.

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 leader Moamer 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. On Monday they closed in on his hometown of Sirte.

© 2011 AFP

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