Wall Street Journal

U.K. Offers Additional Support to Libyan Rebels


LONDON—The U.K.'s foreign secretary said he plans to provide additional equipment to Libyan rebels seeking to overthrow Col. Moammar Gadhafi, as the chairman of the rebel administration made his first official visit to Britain ahead of a trip to Washington.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said the U.K. has invited the rebels to set up a mission in London, and that it will send more communications equipment, bulletproof vests and uniforms for civilian police authorities. He informed Mustafa Abdul Jalil, the chairman of the Benghazi, Libya-based Transitional National Council, of the additional support during a meeting Thursday.

Mr. Hague, speaking to the media after the meeting, added that discussions continue about "a variety of further assistance" the U.K. could provide.

The meetings with U.K. government ministers came ahead of a planned visit by rebel leaders to the White House Friday. Leaders of the Transitional National Council will meet with White House National Security Adviser Tom Donilon, senior administration officials and members of Congress, the White House said.

Senior rebel leaders are pressing the U.S. government to release assets seized from Col. Gadhafi's regime. They want the Obama administration to set up a short-term mechanism to allow foreign funds to immediately begin flowing into rebel accounts.

France and Italy have recognized the Council as Libya's legitimate government. The U.S. and the U.K. have not taken that step, though they have been boosting support for the opposition over the past month.

The U.K. has sent a team of about a dozen senior British military officers to advise rebel political leaders, as well as providing humanitarian aid.

Messrs. Hague and Jalil also said the rebel group planned to open a mission in the U.K., which has the largest Libyan community outside of Libya.

"This is an important statement of our engagement and our commitment to deepen our relationship. It will improve our ability to communicate with the National Transitional Council leadership and complement the work undertaken by our own office in Benghazi," Mr. Hague said.

Mr. Jalil also met Thursday with British Prime Minister David Cameron at his official residence on Downing Street. Across the street, a demonstration of several-hundred rebel supporters chanted, wave flags and waved banners with anti-Gadhafi slogans.

The NTC chairman, during a media briefing, said the rebels also need "light weapons" and money for purposes such as food, medicine and wages.

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