Berlin opens liaison office in Benghazi, deepening ties with Libyan rebels | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 23.05.2011
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Berlin opens liaison office in Benghazi, deepening ties with Libyan rebels

Germany has opened a liaison office in the Libyan opposition stronghold of Benghazi a day after the EU deepened ties with the anti-Gadhafi rebels.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle in front of German and EU flags

Westerwelle wants to coordinate German policy with the EU

The German government opened a liaison office in the Libyan rebel stronghold of Benghazi on Monday, a day after the European Union deepened its contact with the anti-government opposition.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said Berlin wants to broaden its ties with members of the opposition who are seeking to topple Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi from power.

"The staff, led by an experienced diplomat, has already started its work," Westerwelle said of the new office.

German abstention

Libyan rebels in downtown Benghazi

Berlin and Brussels are seeking closer ties with Libyan rebels

Germany, currently a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council (UNSC), abstained from the March 17 vote that sanctioned the use of "all necessary measures" to prevent the deaths of civilians at the hands of advancing Gadhafi loyalists.

Germany's key NATO allies and permanent members of the Security Council - the US, France and Britain - voted for the resolution.

Subsequently, Berlin has expressed willingness to participate in an EU military mission to secure humanitarian aid to Libya. Although the EU has drafted plans for such a mission, the United Nations has said it is not necessary at this point.

Policy coordination

Westerwelle said the liaison office is an attempt to bring Berlin's policy in synch with Brussels. The EU opened its own office in Benghazi on Sunday in order to improve "non-humanitarian" co-ordination with the rebels.

"That is also an important sign," Westerwelle said. "As you can see, it's a question of a coordinated approach in the EU."

Author: Spencer Kimball (AP, dpa)
Editor: Andreas Illmer

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