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Britain's business with Gaddafi

We don’t decide between countries we trade with on the basis of whether they are nice or not. There are lots of regimes around the world. If we didn’t trade with them we would be shooting ourselves in the foot.

- Libyan British Business Council director-general Robin Lamb, Feb 22.

See the Daily Mail’s report here.

UK trade with Libya is worth an estimated £1.5billion a year, with British exports soaring more than 50% between 2008 and 2009.

And Libya’s newly well-off have attracted other firms, including British high street chains Next, Monsoon, Accessorize and Marks & Spencer.

On Monday, the United States accused Britain of legitimising the Gaddafi regime.

Louis Susman, the US ambassador to London, suggested moves to repair relations with the Libyan dictator had only served to give him "greater stature" on the world stage, while campaigners condemned the rapprochement as a failure.

I would suggest that to deal with him, to give him greater stature, greater ability on the world front to look like he is a good citizen is a mistake.”

See The Telegraph’s report here.

The US ambassador was referring to UK ties to Libya which began when former Premier Tony Blair struck his now infamous 'Deal in the Desert' in 2004.

It paved the way for oil contracts worth billions for European countries.

Among the firms that benefited are the Anglo-Dutch company Shell signing an agreement worth up to $1bn, Spain's Repsol, and BP, which struck its largest exploration commitment to date, in a deal worth at least $900m in Libya.

Italy has been taking the largest proportion of Libya’s oil exports.

See Al-Jazeera’s report here.

This week Daniel Kawczynski, the ruling Conservative party’s chair of the Commons all-party committee on Libya, said the British public would find it “totally abhorrent” to be doing business with the Libyan regime.