Wednesday, 30 March 2011

BBC News - Libyan minister arrives in London on surprise visit

Libyan minister arrives in London on surprise visit

Libya's Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa speaking at a press conference The Libyan government says its foreign minister Moussa Koussa is not defecting

Libya's foreign minister Moussa Koussa has arrived in London on a surprise visit from Tunisia, amid reports he has defected.

A Libyan government spokesman insisted Mr Koussa - in his post for two years - had not defected, but was travelling abroad on a diplomatic mission.

The BBC's Nick Robinson said sources had told him they were confident he had come to London to escape the regime.

It comes as the UK takes steps to expel five Libyan diplomats.

Foreign Secretary William Hague told MPs the five, who include the military attache, "could pose a threat" to UK security.

The development comes as rebels fighting Libyan government forces are continuing to lose ground and are retreating from their former strongholds along the eastern coast of Libya.

Earlier, Prime Minister David Cameron said the UK was not ruling out providing arms to rebels in "certain circumstances" but no decision had been taken.

The UK has been involved in more than 160 aerial missions, as well as missile strikes, over Libya since coalition operations began on 19 March following a UN resolution.

The coalition military action is aimed at enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya and protecting civilians from attacks by forces loyal to its leader Col Muammar Gaddafi. It has denied air strikes are meant to provide cover for a rebel advance.