Ex-Libyan minister to share info on Qaddafi

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 - Libya's former Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa is traveling to Qatar to share his insight on the workings of Muammar Qaddafi's inner circle, a British government official said Tuesday.

Koussa has been asked to attend the conference on Libya being held in Doha as a valuable Qaddafi insider, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.

MI6 agents stopped questioning Koussa last week, according to the official. Koussa had been staying in a safehouse until late Monday night, according to Noman Benotman, an ex-member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group and relative of Koussa who has been in regular contact with the former foreign minister since he fled to Britain.

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Although Koussa was provided with legal advice, Benotman said he believed he had "cleared most of the legal hurdles in the U.K." surrounding his alleged involvement in the Lockerbie bombing and arming the IRA.

Britain's Foreign Office confirmed the trip in a statement Tuesday, saying that Koussa was "traveling today to Doha to meet with the Qatari government and a range of other Libyan representatives."

The statement added that Koussa was "a free individual, who can travel to and from the U.K. as he wishes."

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Earlier Tuesday, Koussa made his first public statement since fleeing Tripoli, in which he called on Qaddafi and the country's opposition Monday to show restraint.

"I ask everybody, all the parties, to work to avoid taking Libya into a civil war. This will lead to bloodshed and make Libya a new Somalia," said Koussa, who has spent almost two weeks at an undisclosed location in interviews with British intelligence officers and diplomats.

The former Qaddafi loyalist read a prepared statement to the BBC's Arabic language television channel and did not take any questions. The BBC did not disclose where it had filmed Koussa.

Koussa did not make any explicit criticism of Qaddafi, but said he had quit after he became increasingly concerned over recent events. He confirmed he now has no contact with the dictator's Tripoli regime.

"My country lives in a difficult time. It's the worst. When the Libyans started to lose security and stability I decided to resign," Koussa said.

Also an ex-Libyan intelligence chief, Koussa said that for more than 30 years had been devoted to his work for Qaddafi and confident he had been serving the Libyan public.

"But after recent events things changed and I couldn't continue. That's why I took this decision. Not because I'm waiting for anything, but because I know that what I did to resign will cause me problems, but I'm ready to make that sacrifice for the sake of my country," Koussa said.

He rejected suggestions of dividing Libya between the rebel-held east and Qaddafi's strongholds in the country's west, calling instead for talks between the regime and opposition.

"We refuse to divide Libya. The unity of Libya is essential to any solution and any settlement in Libya," Koussa said, according to a translation provided by the BBC. "The solution in Libya will come from the Libyans themselves, through discussion and democratic dialogue."

Koussa also called on the United Nations to help deliver food, medicine and aid to the Libyan people.

"We hope the Security Council will take a humanitarian responsibility," he said.

Last week, Scottish prosecutors interviewed Koussa as a witness over the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, which killed 270 people — most of them Americans. Libya acknowledged responsibility for the terrorist attack in 2003, and opposition leaders have long claimed Koussa was closely involved.

Koussa acknowledged he had previously worked closely with overseas intelligence agencies as the West sought to return Libya to the international fold in the 1990s, following terror attacks that tainted the North African country's reputation.

"I personally have relations, and good relations, with so many Britons. We worked together against terrorism and we succeeded. We worked together to avoid terrorism and we worked together to dismantle weapons of mass destruction," he said. "It is a great job, it is great work and it makes the world safer."