Libya rebels get $15bn boost as Gaddafi voices defiance

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Muammar Gaddafi
Paris, Sep 2: World leaders unblocked $15 billion in funds to help Libya's victorious rebels rebuild their shattered country as fugitive strongman Muammar Gaddafi called for guerrilla warfare.

Forty-two years to the day since Gaddafi stormed to power in a coup, senior envoys from over 60 countries met the leaders of the revolution that overthrew him to endorse the fledgling regime and offer practical support.

But in a meeting in Paris they also put the leaders of the rebels' National Transitional Council (NTC) on notice to pursue a path of reconciliation, even as Gaddafi issued a message of defiance from his desert hiding place.

"Prepare yourselves for a gang and guerrilla war, for urban warfare and popular resistance in every town ... to defeat the enemy everywhere," he said in an audio tape aired on Arab satellite television.

The Elysee Palace guest list was a victory in itself for the NTC, as once sceptical Russia and China and Libya's reluctant neighbour Algeria agreed to back the new administration.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, the rebels' most prominent backer from the outset, announced that billions of dollars in Libyan assets frozen abroad will now be unblocked.

"Around 15 billion dollars have been immediately unfrozen ... we want to give back to the Libyans the money that was frozen and that was stolen from them," he said.

Speaking alongside the rebels' leaders, Sarkozy urged the NTC to begin a "process of reconciliation and forgiveness." NTC president Mustafa Abdel Jalil said the Libyan people "proved their courage and their determination" in their fight to topple Kadhafi, but he also pleaded for stability.

AFP

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