UK Foreign Secretary William Hague this evening reiterated his government’s gratitude to Malta for its humanitarian role in the Libyan conflict, especially in the evacuation of British nationals from the country.

Speaking following a meeting with Foreign Minister Tonio Borg and Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi Mr Hague said that the situation was now such that there was a major opportunity for democracy to take hold in Libya.

The UK, he said, would not forget Malta and there were many areas where the two countries could cooperate in the development which had to take place in the north African country, including in health care.

Mr Hague said that the future in North Africa looked exciting as the area was opening up providing opportunities for cooperation.

Asked if the UK’s gratitude to Malta would be translated into help with the migration problem, Mr Hague said it would be translated in many ways.

Although the UK could not take a large number of migrants from Malta it could work on a practical level to get to the root of the problem.

Asked about the situation in Syria, Mr Hague said that the regime over there was responsible for an appalling number of deaths and the way it handled protests was unacceptable.

Dr Borg said that with Mr Hague he also discussed cooperation in other areas, including EU issues.

Asked by a British journalist about Malta’s experience in the euro zone, Dr Borg said this was a positive one, for although Malta had had a small economy with strong currency, the crisis would have affected it much worse had it not been part of the zone.

The euro zone, he said, had offered Malta a measure of protection.

Mr Hague was in Malta on his way to Libya.

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