Libyan rebels fighting to overthrow Muammar Gaddafi have won recognition as the country's "legitimate authority" from the entire international contact group co-ordinating policy on the crisis.
The United States joined more than thirty other states and state-blocs in recognizing rebel leadership in Libya, the Transitional National Council, as the country’s legitimate government.
At an international meeting in Turkey, representatives of international organizations, including the Arab League, the European Union and the African Union, reiterated their support for the TNC, which is based in Benghazi in the east, and for a transition of power in Libya.
A number of countries had already unilaterally recognized the NTC.
Speaking at the Istanbul meeting, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said:
“The United States views the Ghaddafi regime as no longer having any legitimate authority in Libya. And so I am announcing today that, until an interim authority is in place, the United States will recognize the TNC as the legitimate governing authority for Libya, and we will deal with it on that basis.”
The move allows the US and other countries to turn over to the TNC some of the Libyan government funds that have been frozen in foreign banks, to finance its efforts to oust Ghaddafi, and to administer the part of the country that rebel control.
Britain’s Foreign Office said:
"It's a strong signal of support for the NTC and reflects the growing consensus that it is increasingly competent, is reaching out to Libyan people across the country, and reinforces the point that Gaddafi must go."