France Recognizes Libyan Rebels as Legitimate Government, "Breaking Ice"
NATO meets in Brussels today to decide on a course of action for Libya, which is still under seige by bloody fighting and shelling. Muammar Gaddafi has launched a brutal counter-assault on the rebels who initially had gained considerable ground. Civilians have been caught in the crossfire and some BBC journalists were brutally beaten.
But as the international community debates what, if any, action to take in Libya, France has become the first country to officially recognize the new government set up by the rebels, called the National Libyan Counsel. Reports the BBC:
The office of French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Paris regarded the NLC as Libya's "legitimate representative".
Mustafa Gheriani, a spokesman for the rebels in their eastern stronghold of Benghazi, said the French move was "breaking the ice", adding that he expected other EU members to follow suit.
However Italy and Spain have said they will not take a similar step until European Union members have reached a common position on the issue.