International community sets up fund for Libyan rebels

Cash-strapped anti-Gadhafi forces say they need $1.5 billion

Officials from 22 countries and six international organizations have agreed to set up a financial lifeline for the cash-strapped rebels fighting against Moammar Gadhafi’s forces. The meeting of the “contact group” on Libya, hosted in Rome, Italy on Thursday, ended with pledges to ramp-up the Libyan opposition’s financial arsenal. Qatar promised $400-500 million, and Kuwait $180 million, while France said it was evaluating its contribution, adding that it expects the fund to be operational in weeks. U.S. secretary of state Hillary Clinton, also at the meeting, said Washington would seek to free up some of the $30 billion of Libyan state funds that have been frozen in the U.S. A spokesman for the makeshift rebel administration in Benghazi said the opposition needs $1.5 billion in the coming months to pay for food, public salaries, medicine and other basic running costs.


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