The State Department announced this morning that the U.S. would recognize the rebels in Libya "as the legitimate (governing) authority."

Here's the AP report:

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says the Obama administration has decided to formally recognize Libya’s main opposition group as the country’s legitimate government. The move gives foes of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi a major financial and credibility boost.

Clinton announced Friday that Washington accepts the Transitional National Council as the legitimate governing authority of the Libyan people. Diplomatic recognition of the council means that the U.S. will be able to fund the opposition with some of the more than $30 billion in Gahdafi-regime assets that are frozen in American banks.

Here's the State Department's statement:

Secretary of State Clinton will announce today that the United States recognizes the Transitional National Council as the legitimate (governing) authority for Libya, until an interim authority is in place. This step reflects our growing confidence in the TNC's roadmap for a unified, inclusive, democratic Libya, which protects the rights of all its citizens. With recognition, the U.S. and other countries represented here at the Contact Group, can in coming weeks take further steps to help the TNC access funds to meet the needs of the Libyan people. This process will take some time, as we work through issues related to our domestic law and to current UN restrictions on transferring funds into Libya. We are pleased, however, that money is already flowing to the TNC as a result of the Temporary Financial Mechanism.

Ultimately, and in keeping with the TNC's own roadmap, we look forward to recognizing a permanent, democratically elected government in Libya.

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