Britain Recognises Rebels as Gaddafi Envoys Are Expelled

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Byline: Joe Murphy Political Editor

BRITAIN kicked out all of Libya's diplomats in London today and announced it will only recognise the rebel government-in-waiting from now on.

The dramatic move makes it possible to hand the opposition hundreds of millions of pounds worth of Libyan assets that are frozen in British accounts, hugely strengthening the rebel movement.

This morning the Gaddafi regime's charge d'affaires was summoned to the Foreign Office and given three days to leave the country.

At the same time, Foreign Secretary William Hague announced [pounds sterling]91 million of assets belonging to a Libyan state oil giant were being unfrozen and handed to the opposition National Transitional Council. It means the rebels will now have access to fuel supplies and cash to pay its civil service.

In a stern message to Tripoli, Mr Hague tried to quell suspicions that Britain and France are getting cold feet after four months of bombing, saying they would carry on "as long as it takes". He added: "We will see this through to success however long it takes, whatever it takes. There is no viable future for the Gaddafi regime -- they are the ones who have to worry about time most of all."

Earlier this week Mr Hague had revealed Colonel Gaddafi might be allowed to retire peacefully in Libya if he steps down as part of a political settlement.

Following today's moves to end diplomatic relations with the Gaddafi regime, the Bengazi-based NCT will be treated as the sole legitimate representative of the Libyan state. …

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