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Highlights of Andrew Mitchell on the Today programme discussing Libya

By Joseph Willits 
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Mitchell Andrew Feb 2011International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell appeared on BBC Radio 4's Today programme this morning to discuss events in Tripoli and the future of Libya. Below are the highlights:

On the situation in Tripoli:

  • Mitchell said: "The Prime Minister in his statement yesterday morning made clear that things are going to ebb and flow but, nevertheless, the rebels are in control of much of Tripoli and I think we are nearing the end game."
  • Mitchell hailed the "quite extraordinary progress that the free Libyan forces have made in the last few days."
  • He then said "I think the end of the Gaddafi regime is in sight."

On Saif al-Islam:
  • Mitchell was then asked about the confusion over Saif al-Islam’s arrest. he said: “I think there was a lot of confusion – there are quite long lines of communications involved here."
  • He emphaised the complex situation: "I think it is inevitable in this situation with the warfare going on as it is that there will be some confusion. There is no doubt that Chairman Jalil believed that to be the case when he made those points"
  • Rather than dwelling on issues of inconsistency, Mitchell insisted that the important issue for discussion this morning is the future of Libya, and how the National Transitional Council will take Libya forward.
  • Mitchell also praised the "impressive statement" made by the NTC Chairman, Jalil, yesterday, in looking forward to Libya’s future.

On Colonel Gaddafi:

  • When asked on the whereabouts of Colonel Gaddafi, Mitchell responded that he had “no idea” but that the “Americans believe that he is still in Libya”. He reiterated that “no one knows for certain.”
  • Asked if it was a NATO priority to capture Gaddafi, Mitchell said "We have made it clear for months now since the intervention started in support of the United Nations Resolution that we believe that the future of Libya is something in which Gaddafi should play no part and that remains our position today."
  • Mitchell said: "The sooner that he tells his supporters to lay down their arms and that the NTC is able to express the transitional legitimate views of the Libyan people, the better."

On Yvonne Fletcher:

  • On the question of bringing the killer of policewoman Yvonne Fletcher (murdered outside the Libyan embassy in 1984) to justice, Mitchell said there would be “no question whatsoever” that under a transitional NTC-led Libyan government, the issue would be pursued.
  • Mitchell did not confirm his confidence that Fletcher’s killer would be found and prosecuted, but said he was “reasonably confident that a judicial process designed to bring that heinous crime to court will indeed take place.”

Mr Mitchell also appeared on the BBC Breakfast programme this morning, where he was asked about the possibility of troops being sent to Libya. Mitchell said: 

"We have a small number of advisers and mentors, we’ve always been quite clear about that, but the issue which I was asked about yesterday was whether we have plans for the British army to be engaged in Libya extensively and the answer to that is we have no such plans as both I and the Prime Minister have made clear."

Mitchell said the government had "learnt the lessons from the failures in Iraq", and emphasised that Britain is providing technical expertise and advice, but not military power, saying: "this is a process which is owned and led by the Libyan people and by the National Transitional Council and we are providing a service for them".

The full Radio 4 interview with Andrew Mitchell is available here. Mitchell's BBC Breakfast appearance is available here.

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