Tunisia ready to recognize Libya rebels

Tunis -MAP- Tunisian Government declared itself ready to recognize Libya's rebel National Transitional Council (NTC), as residents near the border reported more Libyan shells landing there Tuesday.
“It is unthinkable to accept that a government massively bombards entire cities,” the Tunisia’s cabinet spokesman Education Minister Taieb Baccouche declared.

“Whoever does this loses all legitimacy,” he added, referring to the offensive by Libyan leader Moamer Qadhafi on rebel-held cities.

Tunis was now favourably disposed to talks with Libya’s rebel National Transitional Council (NTC).

“If negotiations take place between the government and the NTC, Tunisia is predisposed to recognise the council,” he said, though he added that there had been “no explicit request for recognition” so far.

Already late Monday, interim Prime Minister Caid Essebsi told Al-Jazeera Television: “We will recognise (the CNT) when they ask us.” In the beginning Tunisia observed strict neutrality because of neighbourly ties and the growing number of refugees arriving in Tunisia,” Baccouche said.

But Qadhafi had “done everything to express his unhappiness and rejection of the Tunisian revolution,” he added.

“He took it upon himself to interfere in Tunisian affairs in calling for Tunisians to keep (ousted strongman Zine el Abidine) Ben Ali,” he said.

“The Tunisian government and people took a very poor view of that.” Baccouche said there had already been several incidents in which Tunisian territory had been shelled, “which is unacceptable”.

The minister’s comments came as witnesses told AFP of shells and rockets fired in battle-torn Libya landing on Tunisian territory, with one report of a large Tunisian military presence on the frontier.

Red Cross official Nasser Ben Abdallah said the first shell had landed at 7:30 am (0630 GMT) and firing had continued until 1:00 pm.

But police and the national guard in Dehiba insisted that no shells had landed across the border on either Monday evening or Tuesday.
In Tunis, defence ministry official Colonel Mokhtar Ben Nasr would not confirm the local reports.

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