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."

News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Sustainability Manager

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Scheme Manager (BREEAM)...

Graduate Sustainability Professional

Flexible, depending on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: T...

Programme Director - Conduct Risk - London

£850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...

Project Coordinator/Order Entry, SC Clear

£100 - £110 per day: Orgtel: Project Coordinator/Order Entry Hampshire

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn