EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton 311 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS/Danilo Krstanovic)
BENGHAZI, Libya - European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton pledged support for rebels in east Libya on Sunday, making the most senior visit to the area by a foreign official since a revolt against Muammar Gaddafi began.
RELATED:ICC Prosecutor seeks Gaddafi arrest over protest deathsGaddafi: I am in a place you cannot kill me
"I saw the posters on the way from the airport to here saying 'We have a dream' and I'm here today to explain not only about our short-term support but also the breadth of our support," Ashton told a news conference in Benghazi.
France, Britain and other European states have been at the forefront of a
efforts supporting Libya's rebels. French planes were the first to bomb
Gaddafi's forces in March after the United Nations opened the way for
The air strikes, now led by NATO, were launched as Gaddafi's troops
advanced on Benghazi after the Libyan leader vowed "no mercy, no pity."
US planes and missiles were also involved.
Fighting between inexperienced rebels and the Libyan leaders better
equipped forces has continued but the east-west frontline is now quieter
although there are still sporadic clashes.
"The Libyan people appreciate this visit and appreciate the European
Union for supporting the revolution since its beginning," the head of
the Benghazi-based National Transitional Council, Mustafa Abdel Jalil,
He said Ashton's visit to open an EU office in Benghazi "shows the
increased support of the European Union in supporting us to have a
democratic and free state."