Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Amr announced on Monday that Egypt has officially recognized Libya’s National Transitional Council (NTC) as the country’s legitimate government a day after rebel forces took control of many parts of the capital, Tripoli.
“In this historic moment, I am overjoyed to announce that Egypt recognizes the new Libyan regime, represented by the National Transitional Council,” Amr said.
Libyans throughout the country’s main cities were seen celebrating yesterday as rebel troops took over many parts of the capital, while many of Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi’s forces surrendered.
As of Monday morning, several military units previously loyal to Muammar Qadhafi had defected to the rebel side, and rebels claimed to have captured the dictator's son, Saif al-Islam. The whereabouts of the embattled Libyan leader remains unknown.
“The majority of the Libyan people think that Qadhafi should be tried in Libya for crimes he committed and these trials should be regular, not exceptional, courts,” said NTC representative in Cairo Abdel Moneim al-Houny, a former Libyan ambassador to the Arab League.
Amr also announced that the Libyan Embassy and all Libyan government assets in Egypt will be handed over to representatives of the NTC.
At the Libyan Embassy in Cairo, the green flag of Qadhafi’s government has been replaced with the pre-Qadhafi flag carried by the rebels.
Many governments around the world recognized the NTC as Libya’s government months ago, but neighboring Egypt held out until today. Despite what many perceive as a belated Egyptian recognition, Houny made a point of asserting that the new Libyan regime will bear no grudges.
“We will consider today a day of two victories, the day the Libyan revolution was victorious, and the victory of restoring Egyptian-Libyan relations,” Houny said.
Egyptian authorities are taking necessary precautions to secure the large Egyptian diaspora in Libya, Amr said.
“We are also looking to restore cooperation between the countries, and that will start with de-mining the border areas and opening up air routes between the countries again.”
Amr assured reporters that Egypt would provide the NTC with as much aid as is possible throughout the transitional period.
When asked whether or not the Foreign Ministry would recall the Egyptian envoy in Israel in light of recent events involving the breach of the Egyptian border by Israeli forces and the deaths of five Egyptian nationals, Amr was dismissive.
“Go back to official documents. We never officially discussed recalling our ambassador from Israel,” he said.