Russia wants Paris clarification over Libya request

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Russian has asked France to clarify its request that Moscow represent its interests in the Libyan capital Tripoli, a Russian foreign ministry spokesman said Friday after France said it regarded the opposition to be the "legitimate representative" of the country.

A foreign ministry statement in Moscow said that foreign minister Sergei Lavrov had asked his French counterpart Alain Juppe for clarification.

"During this conversation Sergei Lavrov pointed out that France's decision concerned the internal affairs of this country," the statement said.

"However, the necessity of representing France's interests in Libya obliges us to request clarification on this issue," he said.

"Alain Juppe said that France had not broken its relations with Libya and Paris was counting on Russia's availability still to represent its interests in that country," he added.

"The French minister also made clear that France planned to establish contacts with the National Transition Council (NTC), which does not mean the breaking of official relations with Tripoli", the statement continued.

"As a result it was said on our side that as the country representing French interests in Libya we were going to inform the Libyan leadership with the aim of getting confirmation of its agreement that we fulfil this function."

At the end of February France suspended the activities of its embassy in Tripoli after evacuating all its diplomatic staff and handing over representation of its interests to Russia.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy decided this week to recognise the NTC as the "legitimate representative of the Libyan people" and send an ambassador to Benghazi, focus of opposition to Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi 1,000 kilometres (600 miles) to the east of Tripoli

© 2011 AFP

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