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Friday, 1 April 2011

senior aide to Saif al-Islam, Col Gaddafi’s son, had been sent to London for secret talks according to reports, in an indication that the regime was looking for an exit strategy.


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There was even specualtion that Saif himself may have already left Libya in Mr Koussa’s convoy but such a suggestion was dismissed.
The Foreign Office did not comment on the report which asserted that British officials met with Mohammed Ismail.
The meeting was one of a number conducted between the two nations in the last two weeks, according to the Guardian and is believed to have addressed the possibility of an exit strategy for Gaddafi.
Despite a low profile in Libya and internationally, Mr Ismail is a key aide to Saif al-Islam and represented the nation in arms purchase negotiations, cables leaked on the WikiLeaks website have disclosed.
The report comes as David Cameron was put under pressure to ensure that the Libyan defector who arrived in Britain earlier this week co-operates with authorities investigating the Lockerbie bombing, the murder of Pc Yvonne Fletcher and potential war crimes.

Moussa Koussa, the Libyan foreign minister, who fled to Britain on Wednesday, is described as having "electrifying" information on Col Muammar Gaddafi's role in terrorist atrocities across Europe.
The Prime Minister said he would not block any attempts by the police to question Mr Koussa.
Mr Cameron stressed that Mr Koussa had not been offered a deal in return for fleeing to Britain and had not been granted immunity from prosecution. But if the defector is arrested and charged with crimes, it may undermine attempts by Western governments to encourage others in Col Gaddafi's inner circle to flee from Libya, a key aim of current diplomatic efforts.
Mr Koussa may also be reluctant to co-operate fully with British officials if he is not given guarantees about his future.
Last night, the Scottish prosecuting authorities investigating the Lockerbie bombing formally requested access to Mr Koussa, a right-hand man to Col Gaddafi for more than 30 years.
International prosecutors investigating war crimes in Libya are also expected to seek interviews with the defector. Yesterday, the Libyan rebel leadership demanded he be returned to the country to face war-crime charges.
Mr Koussa, who was likened yesterday to Rudolf Hess by a Conservative MP, is being interrogated by MI6 at an unknown location. It is not clear whether information obtained by MI6 will be made public.
Senior Whitehall sources indicated that Scotland Yard was unlikely to get involved "at the moment".
The Libyan foreign minister was identified yesterday by Jack Straw, the former Labour foreign secretary, as a key source for British and American intelligence for more than a decade.
Last night Ali Abdessalam Treki, a Libyan former foreign minister and UN General Assembly president, also defected. Ibrahim Dabbashi, Libya's deputy UN ambassador, said that most high-level Libyan officials were trying to defect but were having trouble leaving due to tight security. A senior figure at the Libyan Embassy in London also defected.
In other developments yesterday:
• The head of Nato ruled out arming the Libyan rebels less than 24 hours after Mr Cameron admitted that the plan was under consideration. The US defence secretary said that another country, rather than America, should be take charge of "assisting" the rebels.
• America warned that Col Gaddafi was "not about to break", citing reports that regime troops were laying landmines around rebel-held areas.
• British special forces were said to be operating beside the CIA on the ground in Libya despite official denials that land troops were in action.
• The Vatican claimed to have evidence that coalition air strikes had killed dozens of civilians in Tripoli.
• The Libyan government said that Col Gaddafi and his family would remain in Libya "until the end" despite growing speculation they would seek exile.
Last night, details of Mr Koussa's dramatic escape from Libya began to emerge. According to Foreign Office sources, Mr Koussa's arrival was in doubt up until the final few hours before he touched down at Farnborough Airfield in a private jet chartered by the British military.
He told the regime that he was travelling to Tunisia to seek medical treatment for high blood pressure. The British Government was informed that he wished to head to this country but there was concern that he would instead fly on to Italy, another destination he was said to have favoured.
One government source said: "We absolutely did not want to lose him. It was vital that he did not go to Italy."
While Mr Koussa was airborne, Mr Cameron is said to have spoken to American officials and secured their backing for allowing him into Britain.
As well as Lockerbie, officials are keen to question Mr Koussa about links to the IRA. Col Gaddafi is widely suspected of supplying arms to the terrorists at the height of IRA's bombing campaign in the 1980s.
Mr Koussa, who was previously in charge of the Libyan intelligence service has been described as the “master of terror” who was previously expelled from Britain for endorsing the assassination of dissidents in London. Western intelligence has linked him to planning the Lockerbie bombing.
Over the past few months, Mr Cameron has played a leading role in calling for key Gaddafi regime figures to face war-crime trials. The Prime Minister has also spoken of his disgust at the release of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the Libyan intelligence officer convicted of the Lockerbie bombing.
Last night Lord Fraser of Carmyllie, the former Lord Advocate who initiated and oversaw the Lockerbie case, suggested that a “snatch squad” should be sent to Tripoli to try to secure any Libyan papers on the atrocity. He said it was unlikely Mr Koussa had brought documents with him but added that he had always had “dark suspicions” that the bomb plot came from the “heart of government”.
“I think we should send in a snatch squad to secure what papers they have before they are shredded,” said the Tory peer. Yesterday, at a press conference, Mr Cameron stressed that Mr Koussa would not be offered a “deal”.
The Prime Minister said: “Let me be clear, Moussa Koussa is not being granted immunity, there is no deal of that kind.
“And the point I would make about the dreadful events over Lockerbie: that investigation is still open and the police and the prosecuting authorities are entirely independent of government and they should follow their evidence wherever it leads and the Government will assist them in any way possible.”
MPs from all political parties yesterday insisted that it was vital that Koussa did not escape justice. Robert Halfon, a Conservative MP who has tabled several parliamentary motions on Lockerbie, said: “I think what has happened is comparable to Rudolf Hess coming here during the Second World War.
“The fact is that this man is most likely a war criminal, allegedly been responsible for the deaths of British citizens, allegedly the organiser of the Lockerbie bombing, he’s part of the Gaddafi totalitarian regime and in my view and that of many others he needs to go to the international court to face trials for war crimes.”


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