Libya Contact Group to recognize NTC as legitimate authority: FM

The Libyan Contact Group decided to recognize the rebel National Transitional Council (NTC) as the legitimate authority of Libya, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said on the sidelines of the group's fourth meeting held in Turkey's Istanbul on Friday.

"We agreed on a very important matter today and that is to recognize the NTC as the only legitimate interlocutor and voice of the Libyan people," Frattini told reporters.

Japanese Parliamentary Vice Foreign Minister Hisashi Tokunaga also announced at the meeting that his country regards the NTC as the legitimate interlocutor of Libya.

"I would like to take this opportunity to declare that the government of Japan regards the NTC as the legitimate interlocutor of the Libyan people," Tokunaga said in a statement.

Frattini said the Libyan Contact Group "will only have one channel of negotiation," and the group's "united voice" will be consistent with that of the UN special envoy for Libya Abdel Elah al-Khatib.

A ceasefire is a possibility, he said, adding it is an option for al-Khatib to use in negotiations with the Libyan government.

"We will also seek to improve ways to financially assist the NTC," he said, "We will try to focus on the reconstruction effort needed for post-Gaddafi Libya."

Frattini said the UN envoy would work toward forming a board composed of three members from the rebels and three from the Libyan government so that a political process could be worked out.

The Libya Contact Group was established at the London conference on March 29 to provide political guidance for the endeavors of the international community with a view to resolve the crisis in Libya.

The Libya Contact Group has previously convened in Qatar, Italy and the United Arab Emirates.

[Source: Xinhua, Istanbul, 15Jul11]

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