British govt says Libyan rebels are ‘valid interlocutors’

London–The British government described the Libyan opposition as "valid interlocutors" on Thursday after France moved to recognize the rebels as the country's rightful representatives.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy seized the initiative as the EU leadership hesitated to recognize the rebels, ahead of a summit to discuss the conflict between loyalists of Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi and rebel forces.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: "The UK recognizes states, not governments. The Interim National Council are valid interlocutors with whom we wish to work closely."

Britain has made it clear that Qadhafi "must go and now", the spokeswoman reiterated.

"We are working closely with international partners to achieve this. We are considering a range of options and look forward to discussing these with President Sarkozy and other partners at tomorrow's European Council."

France's move prompted the rebels to call on other European Union states to follow suit.

But Germany expressed caution on the issue on Thursday, with a high-ranking government source saying the question of recognising the rebels "has not arisen".

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said his country would seek the opinion of other European nations before deciding whether to recognise the rebels.

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