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Turkey recognizes rebel Libyan govt., pledges $200 mln. in aid

RIA Novosti

04:02 04/07/2011 MOSCOW, July 4 (RIA Novosti) - The Turkish foreign minister officially recognized Libya's rebel government and pledged the aid of at least $200 million during his Sunday's visit to the rebel stronghold Benghazi, Al Jazeera reported.

During his one-day visit to the country, Ahmet Davutoglu pledged another $200 million in aid to the TNC, in addition to $100 million already allocated.

"Gaddafi should leave power and a genuine political change based on the demands and aspirations of the Libyan people should be realized," Xinhua quoted Davutoglu as saying during the visit. "The unity of Libya must be protected."

Turkey initially opposed NATO military operation in the country, but distanced itself when the allies began their airstrikes.

Davutoglu's visit comes a day after Turkey announced the official closure of its embassy in Tripoli. The ambassador, Salim Levent Sahinkaya, left the Libyan capital when NATO airstrikes began in March, but officially remained in post until recently.

The visit also comes after Ankara's decision to freeze Muammar Gaddafi assets and impose sanctions on his leadership was officially made public.

"That we are coming with a big delegation is a message in itself," Hurriyet quoted Davutoglu as saying while en route to Benghazi.

Meanwhile, the rebel government is divided on Gaddafi's future. NTC chairman said the embattled leader might be allowed to choose whether to stay in Libya or abroad, but a spokesman for the council later backtracked the statement.

"As a peaceful solution, we offered that he can resign and order his soldiers to withdraw from their barracks and positions, and then he can decide either to stay in Libya or abroad," NTC chairman, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, told the Tripoli Post.

"If he [Gaddafi] desires to stay in Libya, we will determine the place and it will be under international supervision. And there will be international supervision of all his movements," Jalil said.

Later in the day, NTC spokesman Abdel-Hafiz Ghoga said Jalil was expressing his personal view.

"Let Gaddafi show us one place in Libya where he hasn't harmed, tortured or killed people and he could stay there, but this place doesn't exist," Al Jazeera quoted Ghoga as saying late on Sunday.

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