Libya: William Hague and rebels talk political roadmap

William Hague: "There isn't a political solution that involves Gaddafi"

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The foreign secretary has used a trip to rebel-held Benghazi to discuss a political roadmap for the future with Libya's Transitional National Council.

William Hague and International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell held talks with the TNC's head Mustafa Abdul Jalil.

They also visited a medical centre, met citizens of Benghazi and laid a wreath at Commonwealth war graves.

UK Apache attack helicopters have also been used in Libya for the first time.

They attacked and destroyed two military installations, a radar site and an armed checkpoint near Brega, the Captain of HMS Ocean told the BBC.

The Apaches are understood to have faced incoming fire.

On Wednesday, Nato extended its mission in Libya by 90 days.

UK 'interference'

Talks in Benghazi were focused on recent progress against Col Gaddafi and UK assistance to help meet the Libyan people's humanitarian needs.

The Gaddafi government "strongly denounced" what it called the "illegal" visit.

A statement on the state-owned Jana news agency said Mr Hague's visit was an interference with the internal affairs of a sovereign nation.

However, earlier Mr Hague said he was in Benghazi for "one principal reason - to show our support for the Libyan people and for the National Transitional Council, the legitimate representative of the Libyan people".

William Hague and Andrew Mitchell meet a casualty in a Benghazi clinic William Hague and Andrew Mitchell meet a casualty in a Benghazi clinic

He said the visit was "part of a co-ordinated and strategic approach to Libya - ensuring that our military, diplomatic and development actions are aligned" and the UK was committed to the task.

He also reiterated his call for Col Gaddafi to go.

"Of course we all want a political not a military solution I think to any conflict, including this one. But that is only possible if Colonel Gaddafi will go.

"You only have to talk to the people here, see the graffiti that is written on all the walls, listen to anybody in the street, to realise that there isn't a political solution that involves Gaddafi still being at the head of Libya," he said.

Mr Mitchell announced new UK support for the clearance of mines in Misrata, Benghazi and other affected areas to help ensure the safety of 200,000 people.

Of the 4,000 wounded persons that have been treated in Misrata alone so far, more than 400 have reportedly required limb amputations, according to the Foreign Office.

The ministers also met UK and international humanitarian and stabilisation teams for an update on the situation on the ground.

The UK office in Benghazi is now the largest in North Africa after Cairo.

Communications equipment, bullet-proof vests and uniforms have also been provided to the civilian police authorities.

The BBC's Jon Williams, in Benghazi, said the talks between Mr Hague and the NTC made it clear that the UK regarded it as the legitimate representative of the Libyan people, but "stopped short of calling it the legitimate government as France and Italy has done".

He said the visit was significant because it was the first by British politicians in the 10 weeks since the uprising started.

"The strikes that we saw earlier on today, on Brega, are quite significant, in terms of what David Cameron described as, "turning up the heat on Colonel Gaddafi," he added.

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