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UK would aid Ivory Coast evacuation

A British team is on standby to assist in an evacuation of European Union nationals if the situation in the Ivory Coast deteriorates, William Hague has told MPs.

The Foreign Secretary called for an end to violence in the country where Laurent Gbagbo maintains his refusal to hand power to internationally-recognised president Alassane Ouattara more than four months after an election defeat.

Mr Hague said there had been at least 462 deaths and up to a million people displaced as a result of clashes in the country.

The Foreign Secretary said: "The Security Council will meet tomorrow to discuss its response.

"We call for an end to the violence, for defeated former president Gbagbo to step down, for all human rights abuses to be investigated and for the International Criminal Court to investigate the crimes which appear to have taken place."

He said officials were in "close contact with the small British community" in the African country.

"Since December our advice to British nationals has been to leave the country. France is leading on plans to evacuate nationals of EU nations if it becomes necessary.

"We have sent a Rapid Deployment Team to Paris, ready to be part of any evacuation, and consular officers in the region are on standby."

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