Top Libyan minister defects to the U.K.

Libya's Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa leaves after reading a statement to foreign journalists in Tripoli, Friday March 18, 2011. AP Photo/Jerome Delay

LONDON - Britain's Foreign Office says Libya's Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa has arrived in the UK and is resigning from his post.

The Foreign Office says in a statement Wednesday Moussa arrived from Tunisia, and that he traveled here under his own free will.

The statement says: "He has told us that he is resigning his post."

It was not immediately possible to confirm the statement with Moussa or people close to him.

Qaddafi's troops push rebels further from Tripoli
Obama: Qaddafi's "days are numbered"
Complete coverage: Anger in the Arab World

"He has defected from the regime," Noman Benotman, a friend and senior analyst at Britain's Quilliam think tank, told Reuters. "He wasn't happy at all. He doesn't support the government attacks on civilians."

The Foreign Office's statement goes onto to state that Moussa "is one of the most senior figures in Qaddafi's government and his role was to represent the regime internationally - something that he is no longer willing to do. We encourage those around Qadhafi to abandon him and embrace a better future for Libya that allows political transition and real reform that meets the aspirations of the Libyan people."

Moussa's unannounced arrival in Britain followed hours of unconfirmed reports about his travel plans. Tunisia's official news agency had reported that he had arrived in Tunisia Monday for a "private" visit, without elaborating.

A Tunisian diplomatic official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told the Associated Press that Moussa had met a "foreign delegation" at his hotel in Djerba.

The agency's report Wednesday said he had been accompanied by Libya's vice-minister for European affairs, Abdelati Laabidi, who returned to Libya.

Moussa was reported to be carrying a diplomatic passport.

Comments