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France Expels 14 Libyan Diplomats

France has ordered 14 diplomats loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi's regime to leave the country within two days.

The French foreign ministry said in a statement on May 6 that Paris no longer recognized their diplomatic status.

France was the first foreign power to formally recognize the Transitional National Council, the Benghazi-based political leadership of the rebels who are battling Qaddafi's forces.

France also shut down the Libyan embassy about a month ago.

The expulsions come after the United States announced plans on May 5 to unblock billions of dollars of frozen Libyan assets in the U.S. and give them to the rebels who are fighting Qaddafi's regime.

The announcement was made by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during a meeting of the Libya Contact Group in Rome.

The U.S. is reported to have frozen about $30 billion in Libyan assets since the Libyan conflict began in February.

compiled from agency reports