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LA TIMES: Italy joins France in recognizing rebels as Libya's government »

Italy on Monday formally recognized the rebel government of eastern Libya, dealing yet another blow to the embattled regime of Col. Moammar Kadafi.

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said Rome would open an office in rebel-held territory and formally recognize the Benghazi-based Libyan National Council as the only representative of the country, which Italy once ruled as a colonial ward and to which it maintains deep cultural and economic ties. Italy joins France as the second Western country to formally recognize the rebel government.

Frattini said the Tripoli government had lost its legitimacy and any solution for the future of Libya had the condition that Kadafi and his family had to leave Libya. He rejected the regime’s attempts to wiggle its way diplomatically out of its worst crisis after failing to gain a decisive victory on the battlefield or emerge from international isolation.

Abdelati Obeidi, serving as Libya’s acting foreign minister, is on a diplomatic mission through Greece, Malta and Turkey, shopping around proposals to halt strong U.N. sanctions and end an international bombing campaign against Kadafi’s troops.