Britain’s ambassador, Michael Aron, explained his government’s recent decision to withdraw its citizens from Benghazi, at the opening of the One Voice 2013 women’s conference in Tripoli yesterday.
The ambassador, who was not listed to speak, agreed to speak to the sizable number of women representing NGOs from Benghazi at the conference.
In excellent Arabic, Aron explained that his government had “received information about foreigners in Benghazi. It was specific, accurate and urgent information. It was decided it was better they left Benghazi. We had a responsibility”, he explained to the women’s conference.
When asked about the nature of the information, the ambassador declined to reveal details on the basis of it being sensitive intelligence. However, he did add that the British had spoken “to the Libyan government and they have the same information that we do”.
“It was a difficult decision, but we have a responsibility to our nationals”, he added in sympathy with a question from a lady with an eastern accent.
“We are cooperating with the Libyan government and we are working hard with them to improve the security situation in all of Libya and especially in the east. We will continue to do so side by side to rebuild the new Libya” the ambassador assured his listeners.
“It is probable that we will return soon and we want to return to Benghazi”, he reassured the Benghazi members of his audience again.
“We understand that the majority in Libya and Benghazi are against terrorism. We will continue to help the government in its efforts to remove this terrorist threat. It is a complex decision and we will review it. And if there are any changes we will review the decision hopefully soon”.