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article imageForeign Secretary attends second Libya Contact Group meeting

By Jane Fazackarley     May 5, 2011 in Politics
Foreign Secretary William Hague was in Rome today to attend the second Libya Contact Group meeting. Among those attending the meeting were representatives from the UN, NATO, the European Union and the Arab League.
According to a press release, the meeting set out to "further intensify the diplomatic, economic and military pressure on the Qadafi regime".
21 states attended the first Contact Group meeting in Doha last month and they were in agreement that the Qadafi regime no longer had legitimacy. At the previous meeting William Hague called on the Libyan leader to step down.
Commenting after today's meeting, which was co-chaired by Italy and the State of Qatar, William Hague said:
"The Rome Contact Group today sent the clearest signal yet of the international community's unity and resolve to implement UNSCRs 1970 and 1973. More countries took part and reiterated that Qadhafi should go. Their commitment to increase the diplomatic and economic pressure on his regime, alongside the intensification of NATO action, and support to the Interim Transitional National Council, including through the establishment of the Temporary Finance Mechanism, shows that time is against Qadhafi and that the international community is resolved to continue to take action."
At the meeting, one of the issues raised was the Qadhafi regimes actions against people caught up in the conflict in Libya. The Contact Group are said to have "welcomed" a report by Luis Moreno-Ocampo, a prosecutor for the International Criminal Court (ICC). In the report, ICC prosecutor Moreno-Ocampo told the UN Security Council that he will ask for three arrest warrants to be issued for crimes against humanity in Libya. Moreno-Ocampo told the Security Council:
“The evidence collected establishes reasonable grounds to believe that widespread and systematic attacks against the civilian population have been and continue to be committed in Libya, including murder and persecution as crimes against humanity."
Moreno-Ocampo also told the UN:
"The efforts to cover up the crimes have made it difficult to ascertain the precise number of victims but there is credible information that estimates that, just as the result of such shootings, 500 to 700 persons died in February alone."
“It is difficult to estimate the numbers because dead bodies were removed from streets and hospitals. Doctors were not allowed to document the number of dead and injured admitted to hospitals after the violent clashes began."
It was announced at the meeting that the Office of the Prosecutor would be submitting an application for an arrest warrant in the near future.
The meeting in Rome comes a day after a Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt met with Libyans at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to hear their eyewitness accounts. In a YouTube video Burt described Libya has being "under siege" and "in great fear".
Yesterday, the diplomatic pressure was stepped up on Libya after the Foreign Secretary expelled two Libyan diplomats from the London Embassy. They have been given until May 11 to leave the UK. In a written statement in parliament, William Hague said:
"On 4 May I ordered the expulsion of two diplomats from the Libyan Embassy in London on the basis that their activities were contrary to the interests of the UK. They and their dependants now have until 11 May to leave the country. We keep the status of the Libyan Embassy and its staff under constant review. I judged that the behaviour of these individuals had become unacceptable, and that they should therefore be declared persona non grata."
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