William Hague Questions Tony Blair's 'Chummy' Relationship With Colonel Gaddafi
PRESS ASSOCIATION -- Foreign Secretary William Hague has questioned the last Labour government's "chumminess" with Muammar Gaddafi's regime.
He backed the "overall" approach of Tony Blair's administration in transforming relations with the despot and said there had been "many benefits", including the Lockerbie bombing trial and changes in Libya's policy on weapons of mass destruction.
But he told the Commons Foreign Affairs select committee the links looked to have "gone too far".
"I don't criticise the overall approach of seeking relations with Libya which led to a change in Libya's behaviour," he said. "I think that overall was the right approach. Then, of course, there is scope for argument about what you might regard as the chumminess of the situation."
He added: "I think some of the things that have been said about the extent of links with members of the Gaddafi family, particularly in retrospect, look to have gone too far and it would have been better if ministers had not gone so far at the time.
"But, overall, the intention to be able to deal and be able to work to some extent with the Gaddafi regime and to change his behaviour, which required some degree of contact with the Gaddafi regime, was the right thing for the last government to do."
Updating the committee for the first time since the rebel-led National Transitional Council took control of Libya he admitted there was still no firm idea of where Gaddafi is hiding out.
Among latest rumours of his location are claims he has fled to the African countries of Niger or Burkina Faso.
Mr Hague conceded some African nations were "varied in their attitudes" towards the International Criminal Court but urged them to hand Gaddafi over for trial if his whereabouts became known.
Meanwhile, Defence Secretary Liam Fox said the Government will spend £140 million buying new bombs to replace those dropped on Libya. He said the Treasury reserve, money kept aside from routine budgets, will fund the cost of the explosives.