Turkey says NATO campaign to continue

Turkish foreign minster calls for Libyan assets to be released on visit to Benghazi as support for opposition widens.

    Turkish Foreign Affairs Minister Ahmet Davutoglu met NTC leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil (R) in Benghazi [AFP]

    NATO will continue its military campaign in Libya until full security is established in the nation, Turkey's foreign minister told a news conference in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi.

    Ahmet Davutoglu was speaking at a joint press conference with Mustafa Abdul Jalil, the leader of the National Transitional Council (NTC), in the eastern Libyan city on Tuesday.

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    "Security support provided by NATO forces will continue until security is fully established in Libya," he said.

    "Libya's political and territorial unity must be fully secured."

    Davutoglu also said that that frozen Libyan assets should be released before the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan for the benefit of the people.

    "Libyans need financial resources rapidly," he said on his second visit to Benghazi in two months.

    Close allies

    Turkey had been opposed to both sanctions against Libya and NATO intervention after the revolt against Muammar Gaddafi's 42 year-rule erupted in February.

    However, in May, Ankara called on Gaddafi to step down and recognised the NTC as Libya's legitimate government.

    Davutoglu said he had spoken with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and 10 foreign ministers from the contact group on Libya on Monday to discuss political, economic and military support for Libya during a transition period.

    He said a democratic and free Libya should be built and that the unity of the country must be protected, adding that Turkey would continue its efforts to secure international recognition for the NTC.

    Nigeria, Bahrain, Oman are the latest countries to recognise the council as the legitimate representative of the Libyan people.

    Oil rush

    Meanwhile, Taner Yildiz, the Turkish energy minister, said Turkey wants state-owned oil and gas exploration company Turkiye Petrolleri (TPAO) to resume oil exploration and production work in Libya if security is established.

    TPAO has interests in six Libyan oil wells, Yildiz said on Tuesday.

    Germany's foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle, he has formally signed an agreement to provide Libyan rebels with a loan of $144m to help with rebuilding and humanitarian needs.


    Westerwelle said on Deutschlandfunk radio Tuesday that the agreement was signed a day earlier in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi. The money was originally pledged in July.

    Westerwelle says the money will be paid back out of frozen assets linked to Gaddafi once they are released.

    China urged Libya to protect its investments and said their oil trade benefited both countries, after a Libyan rebel warned that Chinese oil companies could lose out after Gaddafi was toppled.

    In Italy, Franco Frattini, the foreign minister, said he expected contracts held by Italian companies in Libya to be respected in the post-Gaddafi era.

    "They've agreed to honour all contracts, including those with Italian companies, undertaken by Libya," Frattini told Italian radio, referring to the council. "Italy's contracts are with Libya, not with Gaddafi."

    SOURCE: Agencies


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