European lawmakers call for recognising Libyan opposition

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The European Parliament Thursday passed a resolution calling on the 27-nation bloc to follow France's lead and formally recognise Libya's opposition as the only legitimate authority.

The resolution calls for the European Union's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton to establish relations with Libya's national council -- set up in opposition to strongman Moamer Kadhafi's regime -- and begin the process of officially recognising the council's authority in the north African nation.

However, on Wednesday during a debate in the EU parliament in Strasbourg, Ashton appeared hesitant about such a move.

Since then, France announced early Thursday following a meeting between President Nicolas Sarkozy and two envoys from the Libyan opposition that Paris would recognise the national council as "the legitimate representative of the Libyan people."

The European lawmakers' move comes as EU leaders meet in Brussels for an emergency summit on the Libyan crisis. Kadhafi's forces have launched a bloodly offensive to crush the popular uprising.

While EU member states are divided over proposals to impose a no-fly zone over Libya, the parliament's resolution stated that the bloc should be prepared if the UN Security Council should decide to take such a move.

European lawmakers also called for freezing the assets in Europe of Kadhafi's family and his allies, and in Brussels Thursday the EU agreed to impose additional sanctions on the Libyan leader's regime.

© 2011 AFP

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