Qatar recognises Libya's rebel council
Qatar on Monday became the second country after France to recognise Libya's rebel council as its "sole legitimate representative," a day after the council announced an oil contract with Doha.
The Provisional Transitional National Council (PTNC) "represents Libya and its people, grouping representatives of all the country's regions with the acceptance of Libya's people," a foreign ministry spokesman said.
Qatar, which has warplanes taking part in UN- and Arab League-backed air strikes to impose a no-fly zone over Libya, "decided to recognise the PTNC as the sole legitimate representative of the Libyan people," the spokesman said.
The council, a 31-member body representing major cities and towns in the north African country, said on Sunday that rebel-held eastern Libya was already producing crude oil.
The PTNC has signed a contract for Qatar to market the crude, said Ali Tarhoni, the rebel representative charged with the economy, finance and oil, adding that he expected exports to start in "less than a week."
Tarhoni said the deal he had signed with Qatar would help ensure "access to liquidity in terms of foreign denominated currency."
"We contacted the oil company of Qatar and they agreed to take all the oil we export and market that oil for us," he said.
"We have an escrow account... and the money will be deposited in this account, and this way there is no middle man and we know where the money is going," he said.
Qatar Petroleum, the gas-rich Gulf nation's state oil company, has so far declined to confirm the deal.
In the coalition air campaign against Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi, Qatar on Sunday completed its contribution with three Mirage 2000-5 warplanes arriving at a base in Crete, alongside three French Mirage jets.
The deployment doubled Qatar's strength to six aircraft.
The mission of the planes from Qatar, one of two Arab states along with the United Arab Emirates to have supplied aircraft, is to enforce the no-fly zone over Libya under UN Security Council Resolution 1973.
© 2011 AFP