“France has recognised the national transition council as the legitimate representative of the Libyan people,” Ali al-Issawi, an envoy for Libya's opposition body, told reporters in Paris after meeting Sarkozy.
France plans to send an ambassador to rebel-held Benghazi, he said.
Newly-appointed French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé said from Brussels that France and Germany were calling on their European Union partners to engage in dialogue with the Libyan opposition.
Britain did not follow the French example but declared that the opposition were "valid interlocutors".
Italy will seek the opinion of other European countries before deciding whether it will recognise Libya’s rebels, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said Thursday.
Portuguese Foreign Minister Luis Amado said that he had sent a message to Moamer Kadhafi by way of a Tripoli envoy, which said, “The Kadhafi regime is over.”
A Libyan government plane landed in Paris on Wednesday night, a Western official told France's AFP agency, amid reports that Kadhafi was sending emissaries to Europe.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the Falcon 900 touched down in Paris ahead of Thursday's meeting of EU foreign ministers and Nato defence chiefs in Brussels.
Despite speculation Kadhafi was sending envoys to Brussels, "they've not initiated any phone call" to Nato, said the official.