Colonel Gaddafi’s regime has sent one of its most trusted envoys to London for confidential talks with British officials, The Guardian can reveal.
Mohammed Ismail, a senior aide to Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam, visited London in recent days, British government sources familiar with the meeting have confirmed. The contacts with Ismail are believed to have been one of a number between Libyan officials and the west in the last fortnight, amid signs that the regime may be looking for an exit strategy.
Disclosure of Ismail’s visit comes in the immediate aftermath of the defection to Britain of Moussa Koussa, Libya’s foreign minister and its former external intelligence head, who has been Britain’s main conduit to the Gaddafi regime since the early 1990s.
A team led by the British ambassador to Libya, Richard Northern, and MI6 officers embarked on a lengthy debriefing of Koussa at a safe house after he flew into Farnborough airport on Wednesday night from Tunisia. Government sources said the questioning would take time because Koussa’s state of mind was “delicate” after he left his family in Libya.
The Foreign Office has declined “to provide a running commentary” on contacts with Ismail or other regime officials. But news of the meeting comes amid mounting speculation that Gaddafi’s sons, foremost among them Saif al-Islam, Saadi and Mutassim, are anxious to talk. “There has been increasing evidence recently that the sons want a way out,” said a western diplomatic source.
Al Jazeera reports:
There are unconfirmed reports that more people have left the inner circle of Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan leader, following the high level desertion of Moussa Koussa, Libya”s foreign minister, who arrived in the UK on Wednesday.
It is understood a group of top officials who had headed to Tunisia for talks have decided to stay there.
Some Arabic newspapers said Mohammad Abu Al Qassim Al Zawi, the head of Libya”s Popular Committee, the country’s equivalent of a parliament, is among the defectors.
Nazanine Moshiri, Al Jazeera”s correspondent in Tunis, said that Abu Zayed Dordah, Libya”s prime minister from 1990 to 1994, has also been mentioned.
On Thursday, a second top official confirmed that he would not serve in Gaddfai”s regime.
Ali Abdessalam Treki, a former foreign minister and UN general assembly president, had been named to represent Libya at the UN after a wave of defections early in the uprising.
Treki, who is currently in Cairo, said in a statement posted on several opposition websites that he was
not going to accept that job or any other.
“We should not let our country fall into an unknown fate,” he said. “It is our nation”s right to live in freedom, democracy and a good life.”