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July 14, 2011

The leader of the Libyan rebel council has been received by EU and NATO leaders as the legitimate representative of the Libyan people. The Libyan delegation are on a two-day visit to Brussels.

Mahmoud Jibril in Brussels
Jibril is leader of Libya's National Transitional CouncilImage: dapd

A delegation of Libyan rebels, led by the leader of the National Transitional Council (NTC), has met with NATO and EU officials to discuss the ongoing situation in Libya.

For a long time, European governments treated the NTC with caution, as they did not know what it was or what its members wanted.

However, the NTC has now been recognized by several countries as the only legitimate representative of the Libyan people, and in recognition of this, its leader Mahmoud Jibril was received in Brussels on Wednesday.

Jibril held talks with NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at NATO headquarters, and Rasmussen expressed the importantance of the visit.

"They [the NTC] have a great responsibility for the smooth transition to a democratic and inclusive future in Libya," said Rasmussen.

'Unimaginable destruction'

In his discussions with Rasmussen, Jibril painted a dark picture of the state of affairs in his country.

Mahmoud Jibril and Jose Manuel Barroso at a press conference
Barroso said the EU would help rehabilitate Libya, if neededImage: dapd

"The magnitude and scope of destruction is beyond imagination," he said. "Libya today needs all types of rehabilitation - physical, psychological, social, economic."

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said the EU would be happy to help but "Libyan leadership" is important.

"Libyan ownership is essential," said Barroso. "But European expertise can play a key role, for instance in support of free and fair elections."

Abuse allegations

During his visit, Jibril countered accusations made by the organization Human Rights Watch that the rebels were responsible for looting, arson and abuse of civilians.

He admitted a "few incidents" took place in the early days of the insurrection but "this is no longer the case in the liberated areas."

The abuses were said to have taken place in June and July - as recently as last week - as rebel forces pushed through the Nafusa Mountains.

Jibril affirmed that the NTC are "against any human rights violations."

Author: Christoph Hasselbach, Brussels / cb
Editor: Martin Kuebler