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Hague upbeat on Arab Spring effect

The long-term consequences of the Arab Spring will be greater than those of the September 11 terror atrocities, William Hague has said.

The Foreign Secretary described the recent uprisings in the Arab world as the "most important event in the 21st century so far", while declaring that developments in Libya are going "dramatically in the right direction".

In an interview with The Times, Mr Hague said: "The Arab Spring is the most important event of the 21st century so far.

"In its long-term consequences it will have more effect (than 9/11). It will affect countries in other parts of the world."

Describing the situation in Libya, which has seen the rebels take over the vast majority of the country from forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi, he added: "We have to guard against a 'mission accomplished' moment. It's gone dramatically in the right direction in the last few weeks but it's not over yet.

"If it keeps going this way, though, it will be a major success for the people of Libya and for the diplomacy of the widespread coalition."

Mr Hague said he is adamant that Gaddafi should stand trial if captured, but admitted he has no idea where he is.

"He's much less of a threat than he was a few months ago, but we don't want to see him just go to a neighbouring country with a stock of gold and cause trouble in the region, so it is important that he is captured now," he stated.

The minister also said he believes the aftermath of Britain's intervention in the Libyan conflict would be different from the chaos that followed the fall of Saddam Hussein.

"It is certainly not going to be another Iraq. The Libyans are in control, we haven't changed the structure, there is no occupying force. The rubbish has been collected, the lighting restored, the hospitals are coping," he added.

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