A "grave secret" will prompt the fall of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Libyan state media reported on Thursday after France officially recognized revolutionaries opposed to leader Muammar Gaddafi.
"The Jamahiriya news agency has learned of a grave secret that will trigger the fall of Sarkozy, maybe his trial in connection with funding for his presidential campaign," state television reported.
The "urgent" statement was displayed on state television's shortly after France became the first country to officially recognize the self-proclaimed rebel national council.
The official Jana news agency, meanwhile, reported that Libya was planning to cut its diplomatic relations with France.
The Tripoli government would "consider severing ties with France after information about the dangerous intervention in Libyan affairs," a foreign ministry official was quoted as saying by Jana.
"A country like France cannot be stupid enough to recognize such people who only represent themselves," the official said.
Recognition of council
One of the opposition movement's envoys, Ali al-Issawi, told reporters after meeting with Sarkozy on Thursday that "France has recognized the national transition council as the legitimate representative of the Libyan people."
"On the basis of this recognition, we are going to open a diplomatic mission, that is our own embassy in Paris, and an ambassador from France will be sent to Benghazi," a key city held by revolutionaries, he added.
A French presidential official confirmed Issawi's statement but declined to give further details.
Sarkozy was the first head of state to meet with the Libyan opposition. His talks came on the eve of an emergency European Union summit in Brussels at which he is expected to propose major measures to resolve the Libyan crisis.
Separately, Portuguese Foreign Minister Luis Amado on Thursday said he had sent a message to Gaddafi through a Tripoli envoy saying: "The Gaddafi regime is over."
Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi said Italy would seek the opinion of other EU countries before deciding whether to recognize Libyan opposition council.
On the military front, the fighting intensified on the main front line between the Mediterranean oil port of Ras Lanouf and the city of Bin Jawwad, where the rebels appeared to be have established better supply lines bringing heavy weapons like multiple-rocket launcher trucks and small tanks to the battle.
Youssef Fittori, a major in the opposition force, said a mix of defectors from Gadhafi's special forces and civilain rebels were fighting government forces about 12 miles west of Ras Lanouf on the main coastal road to Bin Jawwad.
"Today, God willing, we will take Bin Jawwad. We are moving forward," he said.
Fighting between opposition fighters and forces loyal to Gadhafi around Ras Lanouf set two oil installations ablaze Wednesday and inflicted yet more damage on Libya's crippled energy industry.
NATO, EU step up pressure
NATO defense ministers are expected to meet on Thursday to thrash out the military alliance's options on the crisis in Libya.
British Defense Secretary Liam Fox said there were alternatives to wiping out Libya's air defense system to implement a no-fly zone.
In contrast to comments by his U.S. counterpart Robert Gates, Fox said attacking Libya's air defenses might not be necessary, citing the no-fly zones imposed over Iraq from 1991 to 2003.
Fox said a no-fly zone over Libya would require a demonstrable need, a strong legal basis and broad international and regional support.
"If it were to be carried out it would be for the protection of the civilian population," he told BBC radio.
Fox was speaking before heading to Brussels for a meeting of NATO defence ministers to thrash out the military alliance's options on the crisis in Libya.
Within NATO "there is a very clear understanding that we want to get a legal basis for this," he said.
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned world powers on Thursday against meddling in the affairs of Libya and other African countries and said military intervention would be "unacceptable."
EU foreign ministers are also expected to meet to discuss North Africa in Brussels on Thursday, with the focus on how the bloc can support the process of transition in Egypt and Tunisia, while using sanctions and other means to apply pressure to Gaddafi.
Two members of Libya's opposition council visited the European Parliament on Wednesday and made clear they wanted EU moral support, political recognition and a no-fly zone that protects the territory they hold, but did not want any form of foreign military intervention.
The German economy ministry said on Thursday it had frozen bank accounts in the country held by the Libyan central bank and the Libyan Investment Authority.
The ministry said in a statement that the move also covered the Libya Africa Investment Portfolio and the Libyan Foreign Bank.
The gradual and steady escalation of international pressure on Gaddafi has seemingly started to pay off as reports suggest Gaddafi has agreed to talks on the transition of power.
Portuguese daily Publico on Thursday quoted a Libyan diplomatic source as saying that Gaddafi would agree to conceding power after Foreign Minister Luis Amado met Gaddafi's envoy in Lisbon.
The source told Publico the message had to be taken with caution as it was given in response to Amado's proposals for a cessation of hostilities against the rebels and a peaceful change of power in the north African country.
"The emissary of the Libyan leader told Amado that Tripoli would accept 'to begin a negotiations process for a transition'," Publico said.
"It is too early, however, to evaluate the real intention of this message and to what extent it is not just a circumstantial declaration ... the message was not presented at the start of the meeting," it said.
The Portuguese Foreign Ministry said the envoy met Amado to explain Tripoli's view of the conflict.
Portugal was chosen this week to chair the United Nations Security Council's committee on sanctions.
The ministry did not name the envoy and did not give further details of the meeting, saying only it was "part of the preparation of the extraordinary meetings of the European Union Foreign Affairs Council and the European Council to be held in the next few days".
Amado is in Brussels on Thursday to take part in a Foreign Affairs Council meeting that will discuss Libya