Germany has officially recognised the National Transitional Council set up by the rebel forces seeking to overthrow the Libyan regime of Muammar Gaddafi and opened a liaison office in their stronghold Benghazi.
Foreign minister Guido Westerwelle made this announcement during a visit to the second largest Libyan city on Monday accompanied by minister for development cooperation Dirk Niebel.
"We are not neutral but we stand by the side of democracy and freedom," Westerwelle said.
Germany had sided with India and abstained in the voting on a United Nations Security Council resolution on March 17 authorising the use of force to protect civilian population against attacks by Gaddafi's forces.
Westerwelle said staying out the NATO-led air campaign against the forces of Gaddafi did not mean that Germany is neutral. "Our visit to Benghazi shows Germany is a friend and partner of the democratic forces in this country," he said.