United States recognises Libyan rebel council as legitimate government of Libya

U.S Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton reacts with Mahmud Jibril, Chairman of the Libyan Interim National Transitional Council, during the fourth Libya Contact Group Meeting in Istanbul, Friday, July 15, 2011.

The United States has formally recognized Libya’s Transitional National Council as the country’s legitimate government.  The US is the latest country to officially do this after such nations like Turkey, France and Germany. More than 30 countries from around the world have recognized the Transitional National Council as the only legitimate representative government for the people of Libya.

Diplomatic recognition means that the U.S. will soon be able to fund the opposition with some of the more than $30 billion in Gahdafi-regime assets that are frozen in American banks. Other countries holding billions more in such assets will be able to do the same.

Contact Group representatives broke into spontaneous applause when U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced her nation’s recognition of the NTC, according to U.S. officials.

Rebel spokesman Mahmoud Shammam welcomed the NTC’s recognition and called on other nations to deliver on a promise to release hundreds of millions of dollars in funds to the opposition. “Funds, funds, funds,” Shammam said, in order to stress the opposition’s demand. It remained unclear Friday whether the unfrozen assets could be used to purchase arms, or if some restrictions would still apply. More than 30 countries have recognized the NTC much to Gahdafi’s opposition.

Clinton said the council won international recognition after giving assurances it would respect human rights and presenting a plan on how to pave the way to a truly democratic Libyan government.

She said the assurances included upholding the group’s international obligations, pursuing a democratic reform process that is both geographically and politically inclusive, and dispersing funds for the benefit of the Libyan people.

The recognition does not mean that the U.S. diplomatic mission in the rebel-held city of Benghazi, Libya, is now an embassy. Titles of staff and names of offices will be decided in the coming days, the officials said.

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