Hague to attend Friends of Libya meeting

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Indy Politics

Foreign Secretary William Hague will join world leaders today at the first formal meeting of the Friends of Libya, which is being staged at the United Nations talks in New York.

Representatives from around 60 countries will join Mustafa Abdul Jalil, chairman of the National Transitional Council (NTC) interim government, at the discussions.

Leaders are expected to reaffirm their unanimous support for the NTC and pledge to continue working with the organisation in the wake of the collapse of Muammar Gaddafi's brutal regime.

International ministers and representatives of Nato and the UN agreed to formalise the Friends of Libya at the Paris summit hosted by French president Nicolas Sarkozy and Prime Minister David Cameron last month.

In the longer term, it is expected to become a more specialised forum made up of around 15 representatives from across the globe.

Later this week Palestinians will seek UN recognition as a state, a move that has caused Mr Hague to call for Israelis and Palestinians to return to negotiations.

The move is likely to be vetoed by the United States and the UK Government has yet to declare its position.

Speaking from the UN headquarters in New York, Mr Hague said yesterday: "What we want to see are negotiations that bring about a Palestinian state, the so-called two-state solution of Israel being able to live in peace and security, but a viable Palestinian state alongside it.

"The best outcome of all the negotiations and discussions taking place here in New York this week would be if Palestinians and Israelis agreed to go back into negotiations together.

"We, along with all the other 26 countries of the European Union (EU), have withheld our position on how we would vote on any resolution that may come forward in the General Assembly in order to exert as much pressure on both sides to return to negotiations.

"That is the only real way forward."

The Foreign Secretary urged world leaders to remain optimistic that a solution could be found.

He said: "It is one of the most vexing, intricate, difficult problems in international affairs, but its importance is enormous.

"The consequences of failing to arrive at a two-state solution could be catastrophic for the Middle East and the wider world, so we have to keep trying."