ABU DHABI // The UAE last night officially recognised the Transitional National Council, the group trying to oust Colonel Muammar Qaddafi from power, as the "sole legitimate representative of the Libyan people".
The Government pledged to help its "Libyan brothers" and would soon open a representative office in Benghazi, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, said.
The UAE believes the TNC has, in practice, come to represent Libya and the Libyan people, according to a statement on the state news agency, Wam.
"This recognition affirms that the UAE is committed to maintaining strong ties with the Libyan people and to its Arab stand," Sheikh Abdullah said.
"Based on this, the UAE's dealings with the TNC will take the form of a government-to-government relationship in all issues related to Libya. There is no legitimacy in Libya today but for the TNC.
"We will work towards helping our Libyan brothers out of this difficult situation and look forward to building a brighter future that will enable Libya to regain its natural position among countries of the world."
The UAE joins countries including the US, France and the UK, which have already recognised the rebel group led by Mustafa Abdul Jalil. Mr Jalil is visiting the UAE and yesterday met Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.
The official recognition comes after a meeting on Thursday in Abu Dhabi of the contact group on Libya, which established a mechanism for channelling aid to the rebels in Benghazi.