The latest wave of European Union sanctions against Syria and Iran comes only a day after the bloc’s chief diplomat went to Benghazi. Catherine Ashton’s visit was the most senior to the country since Libya’s uprising began.
The foreign policy chief was there to open an office in arguably the clearest sign yet the EU was preparing to fully recognise the rebel National Transitional Council. Britain, France and other European states have all backed Libya’s poorly trained and ill equipped rebels.
Ashton said the EU’s new diplomatic service in Benghazi would provide the Libyan people support.
Guillermo Martinez from the European External Action Service said: ‘‘We have identified some needs. They’ve told us very clearly what they want is know-how and technical support. They don’t need funds they don’t need money. Libya is a resourceful country.’‘
Tripoli, however, denounced Catherine Ashton’s visit, with Libya’s foreign ministry saying the move gave recognition to an illegal entity aimed at dividing the country.