‘Gaddafi may be heading for Venezuela’

Monday, February 21, 2011

BRUSSELS - British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Monday he had “some information” that Libyan leader Muammer Gaddafi was en route to Venezuela.

Libya has been rocked by a bloody crackdown on anti-government protests in recent days. The demonstrations followed popular uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia which drove those countries’ leaders into exile.

“I have no information that says he is (already there), although I have seen some information that suggests he is on his way there at the moment,” Hague said in Brussels.

Aides to Hague said the foreign minister was not merely relying on media reports.

He was speaking on the sidelines of a meeting with European Union counterparts which was largely dominated by the Libyan crisis. Ministers called in a joint statement for an “immediate end” to the crackdown, which has already cost scores of lives.

Hague said that the statement showed “the common determination of the EU nations that there should be restraint instead of violence, that there should be dialogue instead of repression in Libya and that human rights should be respected.”

However, the statement stopped short of calling for sanctions on Gaddafi and his allies, after Italy, in particular, lobbied against such a move.

Hague made his comments on Gaddafi’s possible flight after rumours circulated at the meeting that the Libyan dictator might already have fled the country he has ruled for over four decades.

However, the EU’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, who chaired the meeting, said that she did not “know anything about Venezuela and President Gaddafi”.

EU diplomats on the fringes of the meeting said that the reports of Gaddafi’s flight were “unfounded rumours”.

Filed under: Politics

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