MADRID – Spain’s foreign minister said Tuesday her impending visit to the Libyan rebel bastion of Benghazi will be “another step” in recognition of the Transitional National Council that is battling the regime of Col. Moammar Gadhafi.
The aim of Wednesday’s trip is to demonstrate “in a clear and evident manner” that Spain supports the TNC, Trinidad Jimenez told reporters in Madrid.
During her brief stay in Benghazi, the minister plans to meet with the chairman of the TNC, former Libyan Justice Minister Mustafa Abdul Jalil, among other leaders.
Jimenez will be the highest-ranking Spanish official to visit the de facto rebel capital, following in the footsteps of several other European foreign ministers.
Spain has always recognized the TNC as a “legitimate interlocutor,” while insisting that Gadhafi has lost legitimacy to remain in power and should step down, Jimenez said Tuesday.
She hailed the “seriousness and soundness” demonstrated by the rebels in their opposition to Gadhafi and their efforts to achieve national reconciliation.
“It’s a piece of good news that we want to acknowledge, value and help consolidate,” the foreign minister said.
Spain sent a permanent diplomatic representative in Benghazi, but has not formally closed its embassy in Tripoli.
From Benghazi, Jimenez will travel to the United Arab Emirates for a meeting Thursday of the Libya contact group, comprising the nations taking part in U.N.-authorized military operations to protect Libyan civilians from Gadhafi’s forces. EFE