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Nz Diplomats Monitoring Libya, Bahrain Situation -- Key

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, Feb 21 NZPA - New Zealand diplomats in the Middle East are closely monitoring developments in Libya and Bahrain, Prime Minister John Key says.

"The situation seems to have deteriorated dramatically in Libya and you will have seen reports of violence and serious loss of life in the city of Benghazi, as well as protests in the capital, Tripoli," Mr Key said today at his post-cabinet press conference.

"This appears to be a popular reaction to the root problems of high youth unemployment, high food prices, widening wealth disparities and constrained civil liberties."

Mr Key said New Zealand's embassies in Cairo and the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh were in contact with the British and United States embassies in Tripoli, and were working to contact the 26 New Zealanders registered as living in Libya, including one in Benghazi.

"MFAT (the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade) is also actively looking at how best to cover our consular interests in Libya, given the deteriorating situation there," he said.

"We have a consular staff member on the ground in Bahrain."

New Zealanders in Libya and Bahrain should avoid all areas of protest and demonstrations, and to follow instructions issued by local authorities, Mr Key said.

MFAT was advising against all non-essential travel to both countries.

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