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Terrorism & Security

Britain leads NATO effort to find Libya exit strategy

The British government yesterday recognized Libya's rebel government and freed up nearly $150 million in frozen assets for the rebels' use.

By Staff writer / July 28, 2011

Libyan opposition supporters chant anti-Qaddafi slogans as they stands outside Libya's embassy in London, Wednesday, July 27. The British government says it is expelling all remaining staff from the Libyan embassy in London, as it recognizes the country's rebel National Transitional Council as the legitimate national government for Libya.

Lefteris Pitarakis/AP

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In one swoop, Britain has recognized Libya's rebel government, expelled the remaining London diplomatic staff of the Tripoli-based regime, and freed up millions in assets that can now be funneled to the cash-strapped rebel troops.

Amid a weeks-long stalemate, diplomatic activity seems to have stepped up. This is likely partially because Ramadan begins next week, which will force NATO forces to scale down the fighting as most of Libya begins the month-long daily fast. The US and France have already recognized the rebel government.

"This decision reflects the national transitional council's increasing legitimacy, competence and success in reaching out to Libyans across the country," Foreign Secretary William Hague said Wednesday, according to the Guardian.

"Through its actions, the national transitional council has shown its commitment to a more open and democratic Libya, something that it is working to achieve in an inclusive political process. This is in stark contrast to Gaddafi, whose brutality against the Libyan people has stripped him of all legitimacy."

Tripoli condemned the UK's decision, called it "irresponsible and illegal" and vowed to contest it in the courts, Agence France-Presse reports.

The decision frees up $147 million in British assets that belong to a Libyan oil firm now under control of the National Transitional Council (NTC), according to the Guardian.

Mr. Hague also said that the British mission to Libya in Benghazi, its second largest diplomatic mission in North Africa after Cairo, will be upgraded to an embassy if the rebel government requests it.

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