Ties with Libya rebels strengthened

Britain today strengthened ties with Libyan rebel leaders and promised to increase military action against the regime of Muammar Gaddafi as fighting in the strife-torn country intensified.



Prime Minister David Cameron announced he had invited the rebels to establish a formal office in London.



He made the offer after holding talks with Mustafa Abdul Jalil, chairman of the Interim National Transitional Council, in Downing Street.



Foreign Secretary William Hague also held discussions with Mr Jalil, pledging afterwards that military action would be stepped up.



On the ground, Nato air strikes hit Gaddafi's sprawling compound in Tripoli and three other sites, hours after the Libyan leader was shown on state TV in his first appearance since his son was killed nearly two weeks ago.



The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said a British warship had taken part in action to stop inflatable boats used by the regime from mining the harbour at the besieged port of Misrata.



Mr Cameron said that as well as the rebels being invited to set up a London office, the UK presence in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi would be boosted, with specialists who would form the core of a team to advise the council on its longer term needs.



Britain was also completing plans to transfer several million pounds' worth of equipment to the police in Benghazi, and would help improve the council's public broadcasting capacity.



He said: "These steps continue our very clear intention to work with the council to ensure Libya has a safe and stable future, free from the tyranny of the Gaddafi regime."



Mr Hague, who pledged to step up military pressure on Gaddafi, said: "We are continuing to target Gaddafi's forces and command and control centres to protect civilians, and the UK will continue to push for this at Nato. The tempo of strikes and military pressure will continue to increase."



He said the situation in Libya remained one of "deep concern".



"But today's meetings have fuelled our faith that Libya will embrace a better future for its people."



He said he and Mr Jalil had discussed the continuing brutality inflicted on the Libyan people by Gaddafi.



"Gaddafi should realise that time is against him, and it is the council that is the legitimate interlocutor representing the Libyan people."



Inviting the council to open a mission in London was an important statement of "our engagement and commitment to deepening our relationship".



Further communications equipment, bullet-proof vests and uniforms would be provided to the civilian police authorities.



"All these items have been requested by the council," he added.



Mr Jalil told a news conference that the rebels still needed weapons in addition to non-lethal equipment such as the body armour and night vision goggles supplied by countries like Britain.



Fighters in Misrata had obtained some light arms, but more were needed to counter the heavy weaponry of Gaddafi's forces.



"We need light weapons, which is not equivalent to Gaddafi's weapons, but perhaps with courage, which the Libyans have, there may be some kind of balance," he said.



He announced earlier that he had invited Mr Cameron and Mr Hague to visit the rebels in Libya.



Explosions thundered across the capital Tripoli early today, and government officials and state-run television said the strikes targeted Bab al-Azaziya, Gaddafi's compound.



It has been frequently hit by air attacks including one on April 30 that killed his son, Seif al-Arab.



In an apparent effort to quash rumours that Gaddafi himself had been killed, state TV showed him meeting tribal leaders, but did not record him speaking. To authenticate the scene, the camera zoomed in on the date on a TV monitor in the room, which read Wednesday, May 11.



The last time Gaddafi had been seen in public was April 9.



The MoD said the destroyer HMS Liverpool fired at regime artillery on the coast at Misrata last night in an incident where high speed boats were apparently trying to mine the harbour.



Chief of the Defence Staff strategic communication officer Major General John Lorimer said: "The destroyer, while engaged on surveillance operations off the coast, was tasked with other Nato warships to intercept small high speed inflatable craft spotted approaching the port of Misrata - similar boats have previously been used by the regime to attempt to mine the harbour.



"The regime artillery on the coast fired an inaccurate salvo of rockets at Liverpool, whereupon she immediately returned fire, which silenced the shore battery.



"As a result of the prompt action by HMS Liverpool and the other Nato warships, Colonel Gaddafi's boats abandoned their operation."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
The guide, since withdrawn, used illustrations and text to help people understand the court process (Getty)
newsMinistry of Justice gets law 'terribly wrong' in its guide to courts
News
Bobbi Kristina Brown with her mother Whitney Houston in 2011
people
News
Starting the day with a three-egg omelette could make people more charitable, according to new research
scienceFeed someone a big omelette, and they may give twice as much, thanks to a compound in the eggs
News
Top Gun actor Val Kilmer lost his small claims court battle in Van Nuys with the landlord of his Malibu mansion to get back his deposit after wallpapering over the kitchen cabinets
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
The actress Geraldine McEwan was perhaps best known for playing Agatha Christie's detective, Miss Marple (Rex)
peopleShe won a Bafta in 1991 for her role in Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit
News
newsPatrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
News
Robert Fraser, aka Groovy Bob
peopleA new show honours Robert Fraser, one of the era's forgotten players
Life and Style
Torsten Sherwood's Noook is a simple construction toy for creating mini-architecture
tech
Sport
David Silva celebrates with Sergio Aguero after equalising against Chelsea
footballChelsea 1 Manchester City 1
News
i100
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Recruitment Genius: General Factory Operatives

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links