British minister defends trade relations with Libya


LONDON — Britain’s foreign secretary has defended former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s friendly relations with Moammar Gadhafi’s regime and British trade dealings with the autocratic Libyan ruler. William Hague dismissed suggestions that Britain was complicit in the repression in Libya by selling it arms and trading in oil. He said it was right for Blair’s government to establish commercial relations with Libya and that if it had not done so “we might be in a worse position now.” He said such a move helped take Libya away from weapons of mass destruction programs and the state sponsorship of international terrorism. Hague confirmed Sunday during a BBC interview that Blair had spoken to Gadhafi by phone in the past few days, but he did not disclose what was discussed.