NATO allies have agreed to establish a civilian post in Libya's eastern rebel bastion of Benghazi in an effort to step up political contacts with the opposition, an alliance source said today.

Ambassadors of the 28-nation alliance backed late Tuesday the "general principle" of having a "contact point" in the country, and the details of the post will be worked out in the coming days or weeks, the source said.

The alliance representative will likely be a diplomat from a NATO country that already has a representative in Benghazi, the souce added.

NATO spokeswoman Carmen Romero said Tuesday that the goal was to "improve and enhance these political contacts with the (opposition's) interim national council."

France and Italy are the only NATO countries to have officially recognised the opposition Transitional National Council. Qatar, which is contributing to NATO's operations in Libya, has also recognised the TNC.

France, Italy and Britain announced last week that they were sending military advisers to assist Libya's rebel shadow government in Benghazi.

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