Qatar becomes first Arab country to recognise Libyan rebel council

The oil-rich Gulf state's foreign ministry said "this recognition stems from the conviction that the Council, including all of its representatives in various areas in Libya, has practically become the representative of Libya and its people", according to Qatar's state-run news agency.

Qatar was also the first Arab nation to provide aircraft to the coalition carrying out the UN resolution for a no-fly zone over Libya, aimed at protecting civilians from embattled Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's air strikes. Qatar pledged to send four fighter jets to the coalition.

The Arab League has endorsed the no-fly zone, and both the United Arab Emirates and Jordan have pledged to offer "logistical support" to the mostly Western-led coalition. Qatar follows in the footsteps of France, which earlier this month became the first country to recognize Libya's opposition council, based in the rebel stronghold of the eastern city of Benghazi.

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