NATO chief says he favors financing Libyan rebels

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, November 20, 2010.

From Alessandra Rizzo and Don Melvin, the AP:   [S]upport for giving money to the Libyan rebels — presumably to buy arms, equipment and munitions with which to overthrow Moammar Gadhafi — seemed to be growing as the taste for a long air war waned. Officials from countries involved in the military campaign will announce ways to help the rebels financially as they meet Thursday in Rome, the Italian Foreign Ministry said.

"I am definitely in favor of taking all necessary measures to put the maximum pressure on the Gadhafi regime," NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who will participate in the conference, said at a news conference in Brussels. "And I do believe it would be protection of civilians in Libya if Gadhafi was forced to step down. It would be helpful if the opposition were to be financed properly."

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe, speaking Wednesday on France 24 TV, also said the rebels needed help.

In Washington a day earlier, a State Department spokesman had said the aim of the conference in Rome would be to figure out how to get financial help to the opposition Transitional National Council, led by Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, who used to be Gadhafi’s justice minister.

Abdel-Jalil will attend the conference, as will U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is scheduled to arrive in Rome late Wednesday.

NATO’s mandate, agreed to by its 28 member countries, does not include toppling Gadhafi. But it does include protecting civilians, and Fogh Rasmussen said Wednesday that it was hard to imagine that civilians would be safe as long as Gadhafi remained in power.   (photo: Getty)

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