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Moscow welcomes Libyan opposition leader

May 24, 2011 at 2:38 PM

MOSCOW, May 24 (UPI) -- Moscow recognizes the Libyan Transitional National Council as the legitimate overseer of the future of the country, the Russian foreign minister said Tuesday.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said after meeting with Libyan opposition member Abdel Rahman Shalgam the transitional group was lobbying for influence in Libya's future.

"The Transitional National Council does not seek to be recognized as the only legitimate representative of the Libyan people but wants to be seen as a legitimate partner in negotiations on Libya's future," the foreign minister was quoted by the state-run news agency RIA Novosti as saying.

Moscow abstained from votes at the U.N. Security Council that authorized military force in Libya. London has reached out to the transitional council and Washington is said to be hosting an office for the opposition group but stopped short of formal recognition.

The U.S. role in enforcing the U.N.-mandated military intervention in Libya is controversial. Critics of U.S. President Barack Obama said his administration overstepped its authority by committed military assets to the conflict.

"There are serious costs to your administration's failure to appropriately engage Congress on these important matters," warned U.S. Sen. Dick Lugar, R-Ind., ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

U.S. Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and John McCain, R-Ariz., however, introduced a bipartisan measure that expresses support for Obama's decisions on the Libyan conflict.

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