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EU's Ashton Visits Libya In Show Of Support

Catherine Ashton
European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton is in Libya in a show of support for the embattled rebels amid a new series of NATO-led air strikes targeting Libyan ruler Muammar Qaddafi's regime.

She is set to open a new EU office in the rebel-held city of Benghazi, establishing formal diplomatic contact with the Libyan opposition

Ashton told reporters in Benghazi on May 22 that her visit is meant as an assurance of international support.

"I saw the posters on the way from the airport to here saying 'We have a dream' and I'm here today to explain not only about our short-term support but also the breadth of our support," she said, refering to the United Nations-mandated mission in support of the rebels.

NATO says its air campaign has rolled back the ability of the Qaddafi regime to attack rebel fighters and their supporters, and has effectively forced Qaddafi himself into hiding.

However, the three-month conflict is reported to be deadlocked, with the rebels controlling eastern Libya and parts of the west, but so far being unable to dislodge Qaddafi from Tripoli.

compiled from agency reports