France takes the lead and recognises Libyan rebels while Gaddafi’s envoys head for Brussels

The new French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe is now moving fast to try and rectify a string of blunders and to try and restore some cohesion to French foreign policy. After the lightweight flitting about of Michelle Alliot-Marie and her Tunisian holidays, the weight of the former French Prime Minister is beginning to be felt. Though the news was reported by Sarkozy’s office I suspect that Alain Juppé has multiple objectives with this move. And one of them is to show that French Foreign policy can be taken seriously. His biggest task will be to tame Sarkozy’s arrogance and  impetuousness.

Alain Juppé, former French Prime Minister

Alain Juppé: Image via Wikipedia

BBC reports:

France has become the first country to recognise the Libyan rebel leadership, the National Libyan Council (NLC), as the country’s legitimate government. The office of French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Paris regarded the NLC as Libya’s “legitimate representative”. …


Mustafa Gheriani, a spokesman for the rebels in their eastern stronghold of Benghazi, said the French move was “breaking the ice”, adding that he expected other EU members to follow suit.

However Italy and Spain have said they will not take a similar step until European Union members have reached a common position on the issue.

EU foreign ministers will also hold talks in Brussels, ahead of a European Council summit on Friday.

But France 24 reports that Gaddafi’s envoys are also on their way to Brussels for some lobbying activity:

…. The EU’s 27 foreign ministers started the ball rolling mid-morning, preparing a full summit of leaders the next day.

Britain and France are lobbying for United Nations Security Council support for a no-fly zone. Anxious Washington wants any military action conducted under the banner of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, with Arab regional backing seen as essential.

“Some think this could protect civilians from aerial bombardment, others fear risks in terms of how it would play with Arab public opinion,” said a top EU official who asked not to be named.

On the headline initiative of enforcing a no-fly zone over a country vaster than restricted air exclusion areas over Iraq or the Balkans in past conflicts, “countries are divided” over operational input and scope, added the source.

The meetings follow a flurry of diplomatic activity that Thursday saw France extend official recognition to the rebel Libyan national council whose representative had earlier lobbied the European parliament. France and Germany urged European partners to engage in dialogue with the rebels.

On Wednesday Kadhafi sent his own envoys to Europe and they were reportedly heading for Brussels. Asked to confirm, an EU official said “we don’t know for certain”.

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