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Mr. CdeBaca, ambassador-at-large to combat human trafficking, also appealed to foreign governments to protect the large wave of North African refugees from modern slave traders.

Sending them back to the Arab countries in political upheaval also could send them into the hands of human traffickers, he said, according to news reports from the conference in Rome earlier this month.

Mr. CdeBaca also urged governments to look for potential signs of victims of slave traders.

“You don’t fight trafficking on the borders because people don’t yet know they are trafficking victims,” he said. “It’s only when they get to where they are going that they are enslaved.”

“People should be keeping an eye on where these refugees end up, what kind of jobs they are being put into and how they are treated.”

Mr. CdeBaca is a former federal prosecutor who was the lead trial attorney in one of the largest slavery cases in U.S. history, which involved more than 300 Chinese and Vietnamese workers in a garment factory in American Samoa.

REBELS IN WASHINGTON

President Obama is inviting Libyan rebels to open an office in Washington in a step that brings the United States closer to giving diplomatic recognition to the provisional government in Benghazi.

Jeffrey Feltman, assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, delivered the message Tuesday on a visit to the rebel capital in Benghazi, where he held talks with members of the National Transitional Council.

He told reporters that Congress might vote soon to freeze some Libyan funds that could then be used to provide humanitarian aid for victims of the civil war against dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

Meanwhile, the rebel announced plans to send an official envoy to France, the first country to recognize the provisional government.

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