EU to open Benghazi office to back Libya rebels

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The European Union plans to open an office in the rebel-held Libyan city of Benghazi to facilitate assistance to the rebel council based there, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said today.

"I intend to open an office in Benghazi so that we can move forward on the support we've discussed to the people... to support civil society, to support the Interim Transitional National Council," Ashton told the European Parliament, meeting in Strasbourg.

Ashton said EU support would include help for security sector reform and institution-building.

"We want to help with education, with health care, with security on the borders," she said.

Ashton reiterated an EU call for Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to step down.

"Let us ... be clear, Gaddafi must go from power - he must end his regime."