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Ex-UK PM Blair ‘tried to save Qaddafi:’ report

The former British prime minister tried to save the Libyan dictator in 2011, the Times of London reported

Published: Updated:

British former Prime Minister Tony Blair is set to be the subject of a UK parliamentary inquiry after allegations in a new book that he tried to save late Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi back in 2011, the Times of London reported on Monday.

According to a new biography of current UK Prime Minister David Cameron, Blair was contacted by “a key individual close to Qaddafi” during the 2011 military campaign to end the dictator’s regime.

Upon receiving the information, Blair phoned the prime minister’s residence, Number 10 Downing Street, on his behalf. In his call to Downing Street, Blair purportedly said that Qaddafi wanted “a deal with the British.”

In this May 29, 2007 file photo, Britain's then-Prime Minister Tony Blair, left, meets Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, at his desert base outside Sirte south of Tripoli. (AP)
In this May 29, 2007 file photo, Britain's then-Prime Minister Tony Blair, left, meets Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, at his desert base outside Sirte south of Tripoli. (AP)

However - apparently fearing he would seem too supportive of the Libyan dictator – rejected to intervene.

The chairman of the UK parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, Crispin Blunt, was quoted by the Times as saying that “the suggestion that he made an intervention during the course of 2011 certainly strengthens the case for having him come and give evidence.” The parliament committee is currently examining Britain’s role in the campaign five years ago.

New relations

In 2005, while prime minister, Tony Blair decided to seek rapprochement with Qaddafi and his regime, after years of frosty relations between Libya and the UK.

Libyan leader Col. Moammar Qaddafi, at right, with Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair as they meet outside Tripoli, in Libya, Thursday, March, 25, 2004. (AP)
Libyan leader Col. Moammar Qaddafi, at right, with Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair as they meet outside Tripoli, in Libya, Thursday, March, 25, 2004. (AP)

In a 2004 visit to the Libyan capital Tripoli, Blair said that he had hopes for a “new relationship” with Libya.

The two leaders kept up personal ties even after Blair left his premiership in 2007. Qaddafi sponsored Blair's trips to Tripoli on at least two occasions in 2008 and 2009 on private jets, according to UK media reports.

Later media reports describes Blair’s jaunts around Qaddafi’s residences in Libya. In a 2007 letter revealed earlier this year, the-then British premier addressed the Libyan leader with “Dear Muammar” and signed his name: “Best wishes yours ever, Tony.”

But this new phase of diplomacy came to an abrupt end in 2011, when Britain and NATO allies made the decision to bomb Qaddafi regime targets in a bid to support rebels on the ground.

The fresh “risks proving highly damaging” for Blair, the paper said. In May, Blair stepped down as the U.N.’s Middle East peace envoy, a role he held for eight years. His Labour party – which he once led – is currently undergoing a bitter contest to select a new leader.