Austria recognises Libyan rebels

VIENNA, June 18, 2011 (AFP) - Austria is ready to recognise Libya's National Transitional Council (NTC), the political organ of the country's rebel movement, as the sole representative of the country, a spokesman announced Saturday.

"We consider the National Transitional Council as the legitimate representative of the Libyan people," government spokesman and vice-chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said.

He added that Austria would put the issue to its European Union counterparts during talks in Luxembourg on Monday.

Austrian Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger was due to visit the rebel stronghold of Benghazi, in eastern Libya, over the weekend but that trip has now been cancelled, said Schellenberg.

The decision not to make the trip was made after the insurance company involved judged the security situation in Benghazi to be too uncertain.

Austria's move to recognise the NTC is a further diplomatic boost for the rebel administration after similar action by a dozen countries including Britain, Canada, France, Jordan and the United States.

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