British premier makes surprise visit to Libya


Published — Thursday 31 January 2013

Last update 1 February 2013 1:22 am

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TRIPOLI: British Prime Minister David Cameron flew into the Libyan capital yesterday for a previously unannounced visit, just days after Britain warned of threats to its embassy in Tripoli.
Ringed by security, Cameron arrived at Tripoli airport at 11 a.m.
The British premier, accompanied by Libyan Interior Minister Ashur Shwayel, made his way to a police academy in southern Tripoli where he attended a ceremony to mark the promotion of officers.
A Libyan government official told AFP that security cooperation would be at the center of Cameron’s talks in Tripoli.
Downing Street said on Twitter that the prime minister travelled to the North Africa country “to discuss how the UK can continue to help build a strong, prosperous, democratic” Libya.
The British embassy in Tripoli, for its part, tweeted that Cameron was in Libya “to reiterate UK support for Libya’s transition”.
Britain urged yesterday its citizens to leave Benghazi immediately because of a “specific and imminent threat to Westerners” in the eastern Libyan city.
Several other Western nations followed Britain’s lead and advised their citizens to pull out, sparking anger from Libya which said the threat had been exaggerated.
On Monday, Britain said it had also identified a “potential threat” to its embassy in Tripoli.
Cameron paid a visit to Algeria on Wednesday to strike a new security partnership between the two countries, little more than two weeks after a deadly hostage crisis at a Sahara gas plant.
His spokeswoman said before his departure that Cameron would seek a partnership with Algeria on tackling extremism.
The premier was accompanied by his national security adviser and a trade envoy, Downing Street said, while British reports said the head of foreign intelligence service MI6 was also on the trip. Six Britons are believed to have been among 37 foreign hostages killed when gunmen earlier this month stormed the Sahara gas plant and the Algerian army launched a military assault in response.
One Algerian and 29 gunmen were also killed.

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