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UK visa centre in Tripoli closed; Security Council statement welcomed

Council calls for end to violence in Libya 23rd February 2011: The UK visa application centre in Tripoli has been temporarily closed.
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The UK Border Agency has asserted that due to the current security situation in Libya and to ensure the safety of its customers and staff, the UK visa application centre in Tripoli has been temporarily closed.

The UKBA has also advised those applying in Libya to check their local website for details of the impact on visa services, alternative application arrangements and regular updates.

For further information and updates on the current situation in Libya, customers should also visit the British Embassy Tripoli website.

As of now the UN Security Council has called for an immediate end to the violence in Libya. The Council has demanded that Muammar Gaddafi lives up to his responsibilities to protect his own people.

The Security Council came out with unanimous statement from the 15 members condemning the violence, a few hours after the Libyan dictator issued defiance of the international community. The members also censured the repression of peaceful demonstrators.

The British governments and the US welcomed the Security Council statement. The UK ambassador to the UN Mark Lyall Grant said its strength came in its contents and the fact that it is a united message.

The Libyan leader has already refused to step down. In a televised speech aired by Libyan state TV Tuesday evening, he also warned demonstrators of death sentence, if they restored to violence.

Meanwhile, Libya’s envoy to India Ali Al-Essawi, who quit Monday in protest against the violence, is headed to London with his family. Al-Essawi is expected to meet Opposition leaders and pro-democracy Libyans assembling in the British capital in the next few days.

As of now, approximately 150 British companies have developed interests in Libya ever since the US and Europe lifted economic sanctions in 2004. This followed renunciation of terrorism by the country. Libya had also ceased its nuclear weapons programme and handed over two suspects in the Lockerbie bombing case.

British exports to Libya have gone up to about £930m in recent years. Retailers including Marks & Spencer, Next, Monsoon and Accessorize have set up their operations in the country and are catering to the needs of a growing middle-class population.

Among the high profile organisations are oil companies, eager to tap Libya’s vast reserves of fossil fuels. A deal in 2007 had seen BP sign a £560m exploration agreement allowing it to search for oil and gas, offshore and onshore, in a joint venture with the Libya Investment Corporation.

Shell too is exploring for oil in Libya.

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