Blair to meet Gaddafi

The government has revealed that Tony Blair will travel to Libya to meet with Colonel Gaddafi tomorrow.

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott said it was right to engage in dialogue.

But Tory leader Michael Howard attacked the visit, saying it is “quite odd timing to go from a service which commemorates the victims of the biggest terrorist attack on Europe since Lockerbie, to go straight from there to Libya.”

Tony Blair missed Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons today, as he was attending a memorial service for the victims of the Madrid terror attacks on March 11th.

Mr Prescott, filling in for the Prime Minister in the Commons, pointed out that dialogue has already secured a Libyan pledge to dismantle its WMD programmes. “It is right to continue these discussions,” he added.

The announcement at the same time as Royal Dutch/Shell said it will sign an outline deal shortly for gas exploration rights off Libya. British aerospace firm BAE also said it might ink a deal for a civil aviation facility.

Libya was shunned by the west following the attack on an airliner over Lockerbie, killing more than 200 people in 1988. Relations cooled further when PC Yvonne Fletcher was shot outside the Libyan embassy in London.

Since then Tripoli has accepted responsibility for the crimes and agreed to pay compensation to the families of the victims.