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Transcript of William Hague interview

PLEASE NOTE "THE ANDREW MARR SHOW" MUST BE CREDITED IF ANY PART OF THIS TRANSCRIPT IS USED

On Sunday 3rd April Andrew Marr interviewed Foreign Secretary William Hague

ANDREW MARR:

And now I'm joined from County Durham by the Foreign Secretary William Hague who will have been listening to that. Foreign Secretary, welcome and thank you for joining us. Can I start by asking whether you can give an absolute guarantee that there will not be British troops on the ground in Libya? We read reports this morning that 600 personnel are preparing to go there. Can you tell us if that's true or not true?

WILLIAM HAGUE:

That's not true. There is a report, I'm aware of a report in a newspaper today that specifies certain troops that are said to be preparing to go to Libya. They're not actually. They're preparing for an exercise elsewhere. We have been quite clear there will be no ground invasion of Libya. We're sticking very closely here to the United Nations Resolution. I don't agree with what the congressman was just saying. We're sticking very closely to that, which makes very clear there must be no foreign occupation of any part of Libya, and we will stick to that. To completely answer your question, I've always said that there have already been circumstances in which we've sent small special forces into Libya. We rescued people from the desert a few weeks ago, as you will remember. So circumstances can arise where such limited operations take place, but there is going to be no large-scale ground force placed in Libya by the United Kingdom.

ANDREW MARR:

And what about arming the rebels because there seems to have been real ambiguity on this subject as to whether the arms embargo is there or isn't really there?

WILLIAM HAGUE:

Well that's because there is a little bit of ambiguity in the United Nations Resolutions. So we're clear those resolutions that bring in an arms embargo apply to the whole of Libya, but they also seem to give some scope in certain circumstances to help people be able to defend themselves. In any case, however, we have taken no decision to arm the rebels, the opposition, the pro-democracy people - whatever one wants to call them - and I'm not aware of any of our allies taking the decision to do that. So the argument about what is legal is a bit academic at the moment since we've not decided to take that action in any case.

ANDREW MARR:

There are reports that CIA people are already training the rebels and that all sorts of landmines and machine guns and so on are being prepared to be brought in. And the question would therefore be I mean once that starts to happen, then surely we are taking sides, we are involved in something that's a great deal more than simply protecting civilians?

WILLIAM HAGUE:

Well, as I say, we're not doing that. We are engaged in …

ANDREW MARR:

(over) And we won't?

WILLIAM HAGUE:

… implementing the United Nations.

ANDREW MARR:

And we won't do it either?

WILLIAM HAGUE:

Well if we were to … I told the House of Commons last week that if we were to change the position on that, we would come back to the House of Commons, and obviously that would have to be discussed in the House of Commons. So that doesn't arise at the moment. What we are engaged in is protecting the civilian population in Libya, which we have done with a lot of success. Bear in mind that if we hadn't taken the actions we have over the last few weeks, what you would now be asking me on this programme is why we had allowed thousands of people to be slaughtered in Benghazi, a huge humanitarian crisis to develop with people streaming over the borders and all the destabilisation of Egypt and Tunisia that would result from that. So when people look at what we're doing in Libya, they do have to look at what would be happening if we didn't do what we've done over the last few weeks, and it would have been a catastrophic situation.

ANDREW MARR:

There is the old my enemy's enemy is my friend dilemma, however. Are we not in danger of repeating what happened in Afghanistan where we were determined to get rid of one lot of people - in that case the Russians - and found ourselves in effect arming and allied to al Qaeda or the Taliban? Now I mean lots of reports of al Qaeda influence among parts of the rebel forces, and I wonder what you know about that and what you can tell us?

WILLIAM HAGUE:

Well the Admiral Stavridis from NATO, who referred to "flickers" of reports of al Qaeda there, went on to say that there was no substantial evidence of that. It's very, very important that the Libyan opposition make sure that they are not infiltrated by al Qaeda. They are very conscious of that. I'm sure they are sincere, having met them last week and I've had many telephone conversations with them. They are sincere in their wish for a democratic Libya. The manifesto if you like that they published in London last week is very strong, very clear about the development of political parties, of democracy, of civil society, of human rights. So it's very clear about those things. So I think we should take them at face value on those things. Those are their clear aspirations. But wherever terrorism or extremism raises its head, we've got to deal with it, and one of the reasons to deal with this Libya crisis is to prevent terrorism and extremism taking hold.

ANDREW MARR:

And yet the note from America is uncertain to say the least. I mean they are no longer getting involved in the no fly zone. Are you a little concerned that Washington is getting cold feet about this?

WILLIAM HAGUE:

No, the United States has been absolutely clear about this all along. They very much helped us to get the UN Resolution. They've been very heavily involved in the military measures that have been necessary over the last couple of weeks. They've always been clear that their contribution would be at the beginning. President Obama said that in his statement at the beginning. There are thirty-four nations involved in this now. At the London conference this week, we strengthened and deepened that coalition: thirty-four nations applying either military help or logistical help or over flight rights and things of that kind. So this is a very broad coalition and it will be able to do its work under the NATO command.

ANDREW MARR:

Have you yourself met Musa Kusa since he arrived in this country?

WILLIAM HAGUE:

No, I haven't met him. I have spoken to him briefly. I spoke to him regularly when he was in Tripoli, so it would be very odd if I didn't speak to him now. And I welcomed the fact that he had left the Gaddafi regime. I said I thought that was the right thing to do. I asked him to have discussions with my officials, which is indeed what he is now doing. I formed the view over quite a few conversations with him when he was still in place as Libyan Foreign Minister that he was very distressed by what was happening in Libya, that he wanted to see a peaceful solution, that he's very deeply concerned about what's happening to the people of Libya. And I think when somebody like that says they want to get out, then it would be quite wrong to say no you've got to stay there. (Marr tries to interject) And of course it raises many other issues. And you've been discussing with the Archbishop earlier the balance of the dilemmas that this of course raises, but I'm sure it's right in that situation to say yes you can get out if you want to get out.

ANDREW MARR:

So did he ask you for any kind of immunity from prosecution or any deal of any kind?

WILLIAM HAGUE:

No, there is no deal. Let me be reassuring to people about that. There is no … The Prime Minister and I have made clear there's no immunity from prosecution, there will be no immunity. He hasn't asked for that. There isn't a deal. I know there are reports in one or two papers today of a deal. There is no deal. All he asked for was to be able to come here. He chose to come to the United Kingdom of his own free will. That is a good thing that he has left this despotic, murderous regime because it weakens that regime. It's a good thing we're able to discuss with him the situation in Libya and the Middle East, with of course all his experience of it. And it is a good thing of course where the Crown Office in Scotland wish to talk to him about what's happened in the past, such as at Lockerbie. My officials are discussing with the Crown Office tomorrow how to go about that. That's not a bad thing either. We want more information about past events.

ANDREW MARR:

So if people who either survived terrorist attacks themselves or are the bereaved relatives of people who were killed in terrorist attacks, using semtex supplied by Libya to the IRA - if those people go to their lawyers tomorrow and say we want to try to arrest Musa Kusa for that, no impediment will be put in their way for political reasons?

WILLIAM HAGUE:

Well I can't … As you realise, judicial proceedings are a separate thing from ministers, so in no way could I decide what happens in …

ANDREW MARR:

(over) But I said political considerations.

WILLIAM HAGUE:

Well there's no immunity. It's the same as the answer to your previous question. We haven't offered and won't be offering and couldn't offer immunity from prosecution. But I think when you take all these things together, when people see the arguments, it's clear that it was right to accept him into this country and it's clear that we want people to leave the Gaddafi regime. And above all, of course, we want Gaddafi to leave the regime …

ANDREW MARR:

Yes.

WILLIAM HAGUE:

… because that is the way to resolve the problems of Libya.

ANDREW MARR:

Is it the case that Musa Kusa is actually able to contact people and has been phoning people in Tripoli encouraging them to do what he's done, to try to provide the beginning of a kind of house of cards collapse of the regime there?

WILLIAM HAGUE:

I can't really comment on those things and I'm sure you'll understand why, and I can't really give a running commentary on the discussions with him. I will seek to give a statement to parliament tomorrow about the whole situation in the Middle East, but including the arrival of Musa Kusa here, so that MPs can ask questions about it, and I'll try to give some more details then.

ANDREW MARR:

Right.

WILLIAM HAGUE:

But I can't really give a running commentary every day about these things.

ANDREW MARR:

Okay. One last thing though. He's in this safe house. Is he free to leave? Can he just up and off again?

WILLIAM HAGUE:

Well again I don't think I can expand on that. He's not under arrest. He's arrived in this country of his own free will. He's in a safe and secure location. I'm obviously not going to say where that is. But he's not under arrest, but he's having discussions with my officials and it's important I think that those discussions are able to continue.

ANDREW MARR:

We've had a week of to and fro on the frontline so-called between Benghazi and Tripoli. The likelihood of a military stalemate seems very high indeed. Do you now think that this is where it's going - it's going to be a divided country, there is going to have to be some kind of peace line or line in the sand quite literally?

WILLIAM HAGUE:

Well I hope not. And the whole international community supports the territorial integrity of Libya and it's very much the desire of the opposition in Libya to have a united country. I think it's very much the desire of most people in their regime actually from talking to Musa Kusa in the past. So that's not where people in Libya want to go. And let's be clear that if the Libyan regime tries to hang on in this situation, they are internationally isolated. They can't sell any oil. There is no way forward for them. There is no future for Libya on that basis. And so I think even the prospect of a kind of stalemate that you're talking about should encourage people in Tripoli to think well Colonel Gaddafi has now got to go.

ANDREW MARR:

Right. The other huge story abroad this morning is of course Cote d'Ivoire where hundreds and hundreds of people seem to have died in the fighting there. I asked the question right at the beginning of the programme, why is it Libya? Why can't we do something in the Cote d'Ivoire? Is there anything that we can do beyond wringing our hands and hoping that the current regime gets out quickly?

WILLIAM HAGUE:

Well there are things that we've done. We've been working in the European Union and the United Nations to tighten the sanctions on Mr Gbagbo, the defeated President who refuses to leave, which is what has caused this violence. So we are involved in what is happening in Cote d'Ivoire. Here the African Union have taken a lead, and the West African states in particular have taken a lead, and they want to be in the lead. It's a different case from Libya where the Arab League called on the world, called on the United Nations to become involved and to save civilians from being attacked by the Gaddafi regime. In Cote d'Ivoire, it's very much the mood of the African nations that they should be in the lead. But, as in Libya, we call on people to desist from crimes and abuses. It's important the International Criminal Court is able to examine in the future what has happened in Cote d'Ivoire and we renew our call for Gbagbo to get out, which would stop this violence.

ANDREW MARR:

Indeed. Foreign Secretary, thank you very much indeed for joining us.

WILLIAM HAGUE:

Thank you.

INTERVIEW ENDS

INTERVIEW ENDS




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