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Turkey funding Libyan rebels

By Ivan Watson, CNN
Demonstrators smash a portrait of Moammar Gadhafi during a protest outside the Libyan embassy in Turkey on August 22.
Demonstrators smash a portrait of Moammar Gadhafi during a protest outside the Libyan embassy in Turkey on August 22.
  • Turkey rushed $300 million to the rebels starting in July
  • $100 million was a cash donation for salaries and food, an official says

Istanbul (CNN) -- The cash-starved Libyan rebel government received emergency money in the final weeks before their advance into Tripoli -- a $100 million cash donation from the government of Turkey.

During a hastily-arranged trip to the Libyan rebel capital of Benghazi this week, Turkey's foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu and the Transitional National Council chairman Mustafa Abdul Jalil revealed that starting in July, the Turks began rushing a total of $300 million to the rebels.

"The first 100 million is a cash donation," said Turkish foreign ministry spokesman Selcuk Unal. "The second 100 million is credit donation. ... The third 100 million is a credit loan."

"The cash they are using (is) for salaries and buying food," Unal added.

Global response to Libya conflict
  • Libya
  • Moammar Gadhafi
  • Diplomacy
  • Turkey

On Thursday, diplomats will converge in Istanbul for a meeting of the Libya Contact Group, a coalition of Arab and European governments. Representatives from the United States and Turkey will also attend.

Many of these governments threw their weight behind the Libyan rebels by freezing the assets of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's government and pledging military and financial support to the council in Benghazi.

"The group will discuss the next steps to be taken at the political level," said Unal. "It will be no surprise if they also discuss the financial aspect of the crisis."

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