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Iran Invites Libya Rebel Chief to Tehran

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi has invited the head of the Libyan rebels' National Transitional Council (NTC) to visit Tehran, a foreign ministry statement said on Tuesday.

"In a phone conversation (Monday night) with the NTC head, Salehi congratulated the victory of the Muslim people of Libya and stressed (the desire) to deepen bilateral ties," said the statement, a copy of which was received by Agence France Presse.

Following an invitation by the rebel chief Mustafa Abdel Jalil, "Salehi invited the NTC head for a visit at an opportune time," it added.

On Sunday, Salehi said Iran had "discreetly" provided humanitarian aid to Libyan rebels before the fall of Tripoli on August 21.

Abdel Jalil, for his part, "thanked the Iranian government for its humanitarian aid and assistance during tough times," and called for the return of Iran's ambassador to Libya, according to the Tuesday statement.

The phone conversation marked the first official contact between Iran and the NTC since Moammar Gadhafi's capital was overrun by rebels and he went into hiding.

Iran has still not officially recognized the NTC.

The statement said the Iranian ambassador, who "left Tripoli after the protest movement of the Libyan people," would soon return there.

Since the Libyan uprising erupted in mid-February, Iran has adopted a dual approach -- criticizing the Gadhafi regime for its violent assaults on the rebels while at the same time condemning NATO's military intervention.

Source: Agence France Presse


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