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Libya plays down Kusa resignation

Libya has played down the resignation of Foreign Minister Musa Kusa, saying it was a personal decision driven by health problems not a sign that the embattled regime is cracking at the highest levels.

Mr Kusa flew to the UK from Tunisia on Wednesday and the British government said he had resigned.

Mr Kusa, a trusted Gaddafi adviser who has been blamed for some of Libya's brutality and credited for some of its diplomatic successes, is privy to all the inner workings of the regime. His departure could open the door for some hard intelligence, though Britain refused to offer him immunity from prosecution.

Government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim said Mr Kusa was given permission to go to Tunisia because he was sick with diabetes and high blood pressure, but the regime was surprised to learn he had flown to London.

"I talked to many people and this is not a happy piece of news, but people are saying, 'So what? If someone wants to step down that's his decision,"' said Mr Ibrahim.

"Yes, Mr Musa Kusa worked in high-ranking positions of the government, but we don't think he will sacrifice the safety of the country," he added.

"He is tired and exhausted. He is an old man. His heart and body cannot take the pressure."

Mr Kusa's departure heartened Gaddafi's opponents, who suffered their third straight day of battlefield losses to better armed, trained and organised government forces.

"We believe that the regime is crumbling from within," opposition spokesman Mustafa Gheriani said in Benghazi, the rebel's de facto capital.

In another blow to the regime, US officials revealed that the CIA has sent small teams of operatives into rebel-held eastern Libya while the White House debates whether to arm the opposition.

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