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Libyan Embassy re-opens under new flag in D.C.

Jewel Samad / AFP - Getty Images

Ambassador Ali Aujali, representative of the Libyan Transitional National Council to the U.S., is surrounded by other Libyans as he announces the reopening the new Embassy of Libya under the control of the TNC in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday.

By Catherine Chomiak, NBC News

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Libyan Embassy in Washington, D.C. re-opened under a new flag on Wednesday, the banner of Libya’s Transitional National Council. 

Friends and supporters of the anti-Moammar Gadhafi rebellion gathered outside the Watergate building where the embassy is housed to sing and celebrate the reopening of the embassy. One woman, who drove all the way from West Virginia to take part in the celebration, called it a "historic day,” while others waved flags and sang the 1951 national anthem.

The new charge d’affaires Ali Aujali gave a speech thanking the United States, President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for recognizing the Transitional National Council as the legitimate government of Libya. He also said that the Libyan people "will be forever grateful for the United States coming to their aid in their greatest time of need." That sentiment was echoed by the people gathered as they chanted "THANK YOU U-S-A."


Jewel Samad / AFP - Getty Images

A Libyan woman displays a placard at the opening of the new Libyan Embassy under control of the Transitional National Council on Wednesday.

Aujali is no stranger to the embassy. He was the former Libyan ambassador to the United States but quit the post in February to protest Gadhafi’s violent crackdown on opponents. Returning to the embassy Wednesday, he said "we are born again." He was accredited as Libya’s official representative in the U.S. by the State Department last Thursday.

Aujali said that he is hopeful that the U.S. will move forward and release Libya's frozen assets to the council. State Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland said Tuesday that the U.S. is currently in the process of working through the licensing process so that they can return embassy assets to the charge for his use for embassy operations.

Jewel Samad / AFP - Getty Images

Ali Aujali, representative of the Libyan Transitional National Council to the U.S., along with other staff members sets up a flag in the newly re-opened embassy.