12 MAY 2011
By Desmond Hinton-Beales | The Parliament
EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton has announced plans to open an office in Benghazi to "support people, civil society, and the interim transitional national council".
The commission vice-president also reiterated her call for Gaddafi to "go from power and end his regime".
Ashton's comments came during an address to the European parliament's plenary session on a broad range of foreign policy topics on Wednesday.
Addressing the violence between Muslims and Coptic Christians in Egypt, she criticised the "spectre of religious intolerance" and called on the EU to condemn those who seek to use religious belief to oppress.
"Egypt has many challenges", Ashton said, calling on the EU to use its "knowledge, expertise and contacts" to support the nascent democracy.
Ashton also highlighted the situation in Syria, saying that the "Syrian people will not bow to tanks" and advised the regime to "change course now".
The British official also called for Bosnian leaders to "get their eyes off the floor", think about the needs of their country and "see the EU".
Ashton said that she was "adamant that a strong united European response" is needed to the Ashraf camp massacre of Iranian dissidents in Iraq on 8 April, underlining the Iraqi government's duty towards human rights.
"There are members of this house who want a strong defence and security policy," she said, before warning MEPs that there is "still far to go" and that the EU must get "faster and smarter".
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