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December 3, 2022

International group to fund Libyan rebels

ROME – The international Libya contact group has announced the establishment of a fund to help Libyan rebels as it meets in Rome on Thursday, RIA Novosti informs.

The fund will “permit funds to be channeled effectively and transparently to the Transitional National Council,” Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said, addressing the meeting.

The rebel Transitional National Council (TNC) says it needs USD 3 billion in the coming months toward medical aid, food supplies, and utilities as the three-month-old conflict between rebels and forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi ground into stalemate.

Frattini said the frozen assets of the Gaddafi regime, estimated at more than USD 32 billion, could be made accessible to the rebels. “This money belongs to the Libyan people,” he said.

U.S. State Secretary Hillary Clinton said the group would look at ways to increase pressure on Gaddafi to step down from power.

“I hope”, added Frattini, “that more and more partners will consider establishing bilateral relations with the Libyan National Transitional Council (TNC). This will help strengthen our Benghazi partners and increase the regime’s sense of isolation”, a communiqué by the Italian Foreign Ministry informs.

“The importance of a political solution to the Libyan crisis” was underscored by Minister Frattini and the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, at the joint press conference held at the Foreign Ministry in Rome this morning. The press conference followed their bilateral discussion, which took place in the run-up to the Contact Group Meeting. Both agreed that “military pressure must be a means of convincing the Gaddafi regime to stop its attacks against civilians”.

22 countries and six international organisations – EU, UN, NATO, the Arab League, the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and the Gulf Cooperation Council took part in the Contact Group meeting co-chaired by Minister Franco Frattini and the Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Qatar, Sheik Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jabr Al-Thani.

Meanwhile, an International Organization for Migration ship came under fire as it docked at the rebel-held port city of Misrata to evacuate wounded people to the rebel stronghold of Benghazi. Five people were killed in the attack.

In a report to the UN Security Council, the chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court Luis Moreno-Ocampo, said between 500 and 700 people were believed to have been killed in Libya in February alone – the month the conflict began. He said he was seeking warrants for the arrest of top Libyan officials, but did not name them.

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