EU offers support for Libyan transition

Wed Jul 13, 2011 1:59pm EDT

Related Topics

* EU says Libyan rebels gaining credibility

* Offers support for future elections, security reform

By Justyna Pawlak

BRUSSELS, July 13 (Reuters) - The European Union executive offered Libyan rebels help with democratic reforms on Wednesday once their war with Muammar Gaddafi's government was over and said their Benghazi-based council was gaining credibility.

Speaking after meeting a rebel representative, Mahmoud Jebril, in Brussels, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said the EU was ready to assist with organising elections and setting up state institutions in Libya.

"I think this visit is a sign of the growing authority and credibility of the Transitional National Council (TNC) on the international scene," Barroso told reporters.

"It is also a sign of the EU's engagement in supporting the TNC as a key political interlocutor."

The Libyan rebel delegation led by Jebril was in Brussels for two days of meetings with NATO and EU officials to try to shore up international support and discuss political solutions to the five-month-old crisis in Libya.

On Thursday, they are due to meet European Council President Herman Van Rompuy.

More talks on the future of Libya are scheduled later this week, with the contact group of countries allied against Gaddafi due to meet on Friday in Istanbul.

France said on Tuesday a political way out of the conflict was being looked at and that Gaddafi's emissaries had been in contact with NATO members to say he was ready to leave power.

However, it is not clear whether a solution is within reach soon and how it could be achieved.

Jebril said the rebel council has held no talks with Gaddafi's forces. "No coherent, comprehensive initiative has so far been put on the table," he told reporters.

The rebels won a further diplomatic boost during the European visit, with Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands recognising the council as Libyans' legitimate representative.

They joined more than 20 countries that have already granted the council recognition.

Barroso said the EU could become involved in areas such as setting up a new judiciary, free media and civil society. The EU could also finance security reforms and advise on macroeconomic transformation.

The EU has given 140 million euros ($200 million) worth of humanitarian aid to Libya so far and has established an office in Benghazi. (Reporting by Justyna Pawlak; Editing by Robert Woodward)

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