BRUSSELS, May 20 (UPI) -- Rebels fighting to overthrow Libya's Moammar Gadhafi are not Islamic fanatics, a European diplomat said as the EU prepares to open a liaison office in Benghazi.
The diplomat, interviewed on condition of anonymity by the EUObserver Wednesday, said the rebels "are not a bunch of al-Qaida fanatics."
"There is an Islamic element in the politics of Libyan opposition at the moment, but it is a mild Islamic political trend, which is welcome and will have a role in the national dialogue which they envisage. Their focus is national. It's a liberation struggle," the diplomat said.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton announced last week that a liaison office would be opened in Benghazi to support the Transitional National Council. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised the move.
"Our vision is that the U.N. and the EU will play a leading role in the post-Gadhafi period" that will include organizing elections and drafting a new constitution, the diplomat said.
Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski visited Benghazi last week for talks with the rebel council.