NEW YORK -- Tony Blair privately told Colonel Gaddafi to leave Libya before the 2011 rebellion reached the “point of no return,” according to the latest tranche of emails released under US freedom of information legislation by former US secretary of state Hilary Clinton.
The missives reveal the former British prime minister, whose past links to the Libyan regime have been the subject of speculation, told the despot to find “a safe place to go” as part of the country’s transition from his 42-year reign.
Tony Blair embraces Colonel Moammar Gaddafi after a meeting on May 29, 2007 in Sirte, Libya
Thee emails published on Thursday between Blair’s head of strategy Catherine Rimmer and Clinton’s senior adviser Jake Sullivan date from February 2011 and detail a call made “very privately” between the former Labour leader and Gaddafi in which Blair told the tyrant to leave as part of a “managed" process away from his regime.
Quoting Blair, Rimmer said: "The absolute key thing is that the bloodshed and violence must stop. If you have a safe place to go then you should go there, because this will not end peacefully unless that happens and there has to be a process of change. That process of change can be managed and we have to find a way of managing it. I have talked to people and everyone wants a peaceful end to this."
Blair went on to suggest he could intervene in the crisis along with western governments to bring about an end to the crisis. "The US and the EU are in a tough position right now and I need to take something back to them which ensures this ends peacefully," he said. "If people saw the leader standing aside they would be content with that. If this goes on for another day/two days we will go past the point. I'm saying this because I believe it deeply. If we can't get a way through/out very quickly this will go past the point of no return."
Blair has come under pressure to explain Britain’s foreign policy approach towards the North African state during his tenure, with the latest disclosures likely to strengthen calls for the former PM to give evidence in front of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee.
Sir Anthony Seldon, the author of a recent biography of David Cameron, claimed Blair called the current prime minister in 2011 informing him that Gaddafi wanted to “cut a deal.” The offer was rebuffed, with Cameron order RAF strikes against Libyan loyalists. The rebels overran Tripoli in August that year, with the dictator captured and killed two months later, his bloodied corpse dragged through the streets of Sirte.