International group agrees on financial aid for Libya rebels

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

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 $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 $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, which includes NATO members, Arab states and international organizations, would look at ways to increase pressure on Gaddafi to step down from power.

“We will be discussing in depth how better to increase the pressure on Gaddafi and those around him – diplomatically, politically, economically – how we can bring about the outcome that the people of Libya and the international community seek: an end to the violence against civilians and the beginning of a democratic transition to a better future,” Clinton said at a news conference ahead of the meeting.

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.

MOSCOW, May 5 (RIA Novosti)

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