France formally recognizes Libyan opposition group

Paris— France has formally recognized the Libyan opposition's Interim Governing Council and plans to exchange ambassadors with the newly-formed body, the president's office said Thursday. It is the first country to do so.

The announcement came after President Nicolas Sarkozy met with two representatives of the transitional council, Mahmoud Jibril and Ali al-Esawi.

Sarkozy was the first head of state to meet with representatives of the group from the eastern city of Benghazi, which was taken over by rebels in a deadly uprising against Muammar Gadhafi.

The European Parliament is encouraging EU member states to recognize the opposition government. The council representatives were in Strasbourg, the parliament's base, earlier this week.

However, EU policy is normally to recognize states, not governments.

Details of the meeting between Sarkozy and the envoys were not immediately available. The president's office had said that the humanitarian situation in Libya and the actions of the Interim Governing Council were to top the agenda.

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