Senior Libyan rebel to hold talks in Turkey

A leader of the Libyan opposition was to hold talks in Ankara Tuesday, shortly after Turkey recognised a rebel council battling Moamer Gaddafi's regime, a senior Turkish diplomat said.

Mahmud Jibril, who handles foreign affairs for the Transitional National Council (TNC), based in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi, was to have three-way talks with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and his United Arab Emirates counterpart, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan.

The talks were meant to prepare the ground for a meeting of the so-called International Contact Group on Libya, scheduled for July 15-16 in Istanbul, the diplomat told AFP.
The group includes all countries participating in the Nato-led campaign targeting Gaddafi's regime and major regional players.

The UAE hosted the previous meeting of the group in June, at which the powers discussed what US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called an inevitable "post-Kadhafi Libya" and Italy promised hundreds of millions of euros (dollars) in aid to answer rebel pleas for funds.

Also Tuesday, Davutoglu was to meet separately with the special UN envoy for Libya, Abdul Ilah al-Khatib, the Turkish diplomat said.

The increased diplomatic activity comes amid a toughening Turkish stance on Libya after Ankara's initial criticism of the Western airstrikes targeting Gaddafi's forces.

On Sunday, Davutoglu visited Benghazi, recognised the TNC as "the legitimate representative of the Libyan people" and offered $200 million (dh734.61m) in aid.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose country is Nato's sole Muslim-majority member and an influential regional player, has called on Gaddafi to cede power and leave Libya.

Last month, he said Turkey had offered the Libyan leader an exit "guarantee" but Gaddafi had failed to reply.
 

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