France: Libyan rebels are 'legitimate representatives'
Gaddafi steps up attacks against eastern oil towns; Libyan diplomatic source reportedly says negotiations for transition of power may begin soon; Germany freezes Libyan gov't bank accounts.
By REUTERS, JPOST.COM STAFF
March 10, 2011 09:32
3 minute read.
Libyan rebel waving hand (R) 311.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic)
France said on Thursday it recognized the rebel Libyan National Council as the legitimate
representative of the Libyan people, an official at French
President Nicolas Sarkozy's office said on Thursday.
The official said France would be sending an ambassador to
Benghazi and receiving a Libyan envoy in Paris.
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He was speaking after a meeting between Sarkozy and officials
from the Libyan National Council.
Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said his government would join the EU's stance on the matter. "That's a decision by a single government," Berlusconi told
a news conference when asked if Italy would follow France in
backing the rebels. "I think it's better for us to listen to the
stance of the entire European community."Portuguese
daily newspaper Publico wrote Thursday that a Libyan diplomatic source
said that Libya's leader Muammar Gaddafi may be willing to start talks
detailing a transition of power. The report followed a meeting between
Portuguese Foreign Minister Luis Amado and Gaddafi's envoy in Lisbon.
Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's forces launched a fresh bombardment of
the eastern Libyan oil town of Ras Lanuf on Thursday, rebels and
or missiles landed a few kilometers from Ras Lanuf oil refinery and
close to a building of the Libyan Emirates Oil Refinery Company
building, a Reuters witness said.
said the bombardment seemed to have come from the direction of the sea.
This could not be confirmed and there were no further details of the
attack. A warplane was circling over Ras Lanuf, the Reuters witness
Earlier, rebels fired rockets out to sea after reports that
Libyan gunboats in the Mediterranean may have attacked rebel positions
on the front line in the oil-producing east.
by forces loyal to Gaddafi has halted the rebels' advance along Libya's
eastern coast, where they have been forced to withdraw from the
strategic town of Bin Jawad after coming under heavy fire.
Gebril Hewadi of the Benghazi medical management committee told Reuters
television at least 400 people had been killed in eastern Libya since
clashes began there on Feb. 17, with many corpses yet to be recovered
from bomb sites.
Meanwhile, Russia will
ban all weapons sales to Libya, the Kremlin said in a statement on
Thursday, effectively suspending its arms contracts with Gaddafi's government.
NATO and the European Union were set to begin two days of talks on Libya focusing on a possible "no-fly" zone after some of the fiercest fighting on the ground in almost three weeks of clashes.
Meanwhile, Germany joined other countries in imposing financial measures on the Libyan government. The
German economy ministry said on Thursday it had frozen bank accounts in
the country held by the Libyan central bank and the Libyan Investment
The ministry said in a statement that the move also covered the Libya Africa Investment Portfolio and the Libyan Foreign Bank.
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the alliance was not
looking to intervene in Libya but its military was ready to respond to
any developments at short notice.
Rasmussen said any action would require a clear United Nations mandate and widespread international support.
Meanwhile, Gaddafi said the unrest in Libya would spread all the way to
Israel, and even Europe, if he will be removed from power, Al Jazeera
reported Gaddafi as saying to Turkish TRT
Gaddafi also warned of the rising al-Qaida
influence, saying that the rebellion that began on February 17 was
carried out "at the behest of of foreign militants belonging to
al-Qaida, who paid young people money and released prisoners to join
them in the fighting."