Libya and UK united on terror threat

Tony Blair has said the UK and Libya have a “common cause” in fighting al Qaeda.

His comments came following an historic meeting with Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi today.

The pair shook hands and held talks – this is the first time a British prime minister has travelled to the North African country since 1943.

The prime minister highlighted “extraordinary” changes in Libya, but added that the September 11th terror attacks had changed the world.

Of the meeting Mr Blair said: “It was strange given the history to come here and do this and of course I am conscious of the pain that people have suffered as a result of terrorist actions in the past.

“But the world is changing and we have got to do everything we possibly can to tackle the security threat that faces us.”

Libya was implicated in the Lockerbie airliner bombing in December 1988, which killed 270 people. Additionally the African state was linked with the IRA and the shooting of PC Yvonne Fletcher outside the Libyan embassy in London in 1984.

However recently Libya has admitted responsibility for Lockerbie and paid compensation to the families of the victims.

Mr Blair explained that he was struck by how Colonel Gaddafi wanted to make “common cause with us against al Qaeda, extremists and terrorism”.

Earlier it had been announced that police investigating the murder of PC Fletcher will fly to the country next month.

Economic links with the country are also growing.

Oil firm Shell has just inked a deal for gas exploration rights off the Libyan coast. A deal that could be worth worth £550 million.

Tory leader Michael Howard attacked the visit, coming the day after Mr Blair attended a memorial to victims of the Madrid rail bombings, 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.”