France officially recognizes Libyan rebel group
France recognized the main Libyan rebel group as the legitimate representative of the country Thursday and urged its European allies to do the same as a way to hasten the downfall of Moammar Gaddafi.
The French announcement, made in Paris, came as European Union foreign ministers and NATO defense ministers gathered in separate huddles in Brussels to weigh proposals for military, diplomatic and humanitarian steps to push the embattled 68-year-old Libyan leader out of power in Tripoli.
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen accused Gaddafi’s security forces of "systematic and generalized" attacks against civilians and said their conduct could amount to crimes against humanity. If the need arose and if the United Nations authorized it, he said, NATO was prepared to take military steps to pressure the Gaddafi government to give up.
"We are watching what the Libyan government is doing to its people very closely indeed," Rasmussen said in a speech starting the defense ministers’ gathering.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy met at the Elysee Palace with two representatives of the rebels’ Benghazi-based National Council of Libya, identified as Mahmoud Jibril and Ali Essawi. The meeting was depicted as a gesture of support for the rebellion that has taken control of the eastern third of the country and is battling counterattacks by Gaddafi’s forces in several cities. On Thursday, government forces appeared to tighten their siege of rebel-held Misurata, while skirmishes continued in the contested city of Zawiyah.
France will soon send an ambassador to Benghazi to establish regular contact with the rebel organization, officials said, and Essawi said the council planned to send a representative to Europe.
French officials told reporters, however, that the recognition did not signify diplomatic recognition of the council as a government. Rather, they explained, it was designed as an act of encouragement.
"We would like all the European Union to follow suit," one official told Reuters. "But it’s not in the bag."
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France formally recognises Libya’s rebels
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France announced plans to sell nuclear reactors to Libya as well as 10 billion euros of trade deals, as President Nicolas Sarkozy welcomed Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi on Monday for a five-day visit. December 2007. Source