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UK diplomats return to Libyan capital
LONDON (Reuters) - Britain re-established its full diplomatic presence in the Libyan capital on Monday, seven months after closing its embassy in Tripoli as a revolt against the rule of Muammar Gaddafi gathered force.
"A diplomatic team, led by acting UK Special Representative Dominic Asquith, arrived in Tripoli today on a Royal Air Force flight," Foreign Secretary William Hague said.
The team joins a small advance party sent to Tripoli last week.
Britain, a prime backer of the Libyan uprising which followed other Arab Spring revolts, has thrown its weight behind the country's interim rulers, the National Transitional Council
"The arrival of this team marks another significant step in the UK's relations with the new Libya, and reflects the progress the NTC has made in improving security and stability on the ground," Hague said in a statement.
Britain closed its embassy in Tripoli in February and evacuated embassy staff. It soon sent diplomats to the rebel-held city of Benghazi.
A government source said the British diplomats had not reoccupied the old British embassy building at this stage while they assessed the state of the premises.
In May, Britain expelled the Libyan ambassador to London after an attack on the British embassy in Tripoli.
France and Italy said last week they were reopening their embassies in Tripoli, although the NTC is yet to move from Benghazi.
Britain has said it will not be left behind once Libya is in a position to start to award contracts for rebuilding.
Prime Minister David Cameron told parliament earlier on Monday that Britain and its NATO allies would continue to implement U.N. resolutions on Libya for as long as they were needed.
"For as long as Gaddafi remains at large, the safety and security of the Libyan people remains under threat... We will not let up until the job is done," he said. "We are ready to extend the NATO mandate for as long as is necessary."
Cameron pledged Britain would support the Libyan people in bringing Gaddafi, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court, to justice.
"There must be no bolt-hole; no pampered hiding place from justice. He must face the consequences of his actions, under international and Libyan law," Cameron said.
Britain's new relationship with Libya had to deal with a series of problems from the past, Cameron said.
He said the case of convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, controversially released from life imprisonment in Scotland two years ago on compassionate grounds, was a matter for the Scottish executive.
"I believe he should never have been sent back to Libya in the first place," he said.
Scotland has said it has no plans to request the extradition of Megrahi, found guilty of bombing Pan Am flight 103 while en route from London to New York on December 21, 1988. A total of 270 people were killed.
Cameron said he wanted to see justice for the family of British policewoman Yvonne Fletcher, killed by a shot fired from the Libyan embassy during a demonstration against Gaddafi in 1984.
Mahmoud Jibril, prime minister of the NTC, had assured him the new Libyan government would cooperate fully with the British police investigation into the shooting, Cameron said.
An NTC minister said recently that Libya would not extradite Megrahi and British media reports say the NTC has also ruled out handing over any suspect in the Fletcher case.
(Additional reporting by Matt Falloon; Editing by Karolina Tagaris)
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