Germany Gives Diplomatic Recognition to Libyan Rebels

Posted June 13th, 2011 at 12:20 pm (UTC-5)
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(new Clinton info in graf 5 in Clinton-Africa CR))

Germany on Monday officially recognized Libya's rebel council as the legitimate representative of the Libyan people, as battles continued in several places between rebels and government loyalists.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle offered the recognition during a visit to the rebel stronghold of Benghazi. Germany does not participate in NATO airstrikes aiding the rebel cause to oust Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

Germany joins several other nations in recognizing the rebel Transitional National Council including France, Italy, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

The Obama administration is supporting the rebel cause but has stopped short of recognition.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Monday called on African nations to cut ties with Mr. Gadhafi and work with the Libyan opposition. Clinton made the remarks in a speech at African Union headquarters in Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa.

The diplomatic moves come as Libyan rebel forces attempt to take advantage of increased coordination with NATO to mount a series of attacks.

In Zawiyah, a strategic city 50 kilometers west of the capital, Libyan rebels regrouped and clashed with pro-Gadhafi forces, weeks after troops had forced the rebels' retreat.

A London-based opposition spokesman said Sunday that several hundred rebel fighters controlled large areas of western Zawiyah as well as a section of the coastal highway. But a government official denied the report.

Government forces killed at least five people when mortar shells and Grad rockets hit Zintan, part of the rebel-held Western Mountains region. Elsewhere, opposition forces say fighting killed at least six at Dafniya, just west of rebel-held Misrata.