France has become the first country in the world to formally recognise Libya’s rebel National Council as the ‘legitimate representative of the Libyan people.’
After a meeting between Nicolas Sarkozy and council officials in Paris, the president’s office said they will send a French ambassador to Benghazi, where the anti-Gaddafi movement has its headquarters.
Council emissary Mahmoud Jibril explained after the meeting that France had a strategic plan to put to EU leaders at tomorrow’s scheduled European Council meeting in Brussels.
A French diplomat said France hopes the EU will follow its lead.
The decision in Paris contrasts with the more reticent attitude of the EU’s head of foreign policy Catherine Ashton who has refused to recognise Libya’s national council as the country’s sole legitimate authority.
Germany has also voiced scepticism at recognising the anti-Gaddafi rebels, arguing that the “situation is still too confused.”
Britain says the LNC members are “valid interlocutors with whom we wish to work closely,” whilst repeating its view that “Gaddafi must go now.”