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Allies Discuss Post-Qaddafi Libya, Pledge $1.3 Billion To Rebels

Libyan rebels have gained pledges of more than $1.3 billion in aid, as Western and Arab nations met in Abu Dhabi to focus on plans for a post-Muammar Qaddafi Libya.

The Libya Contact Group meeting in Abu Dhabi brought together U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and representatives from France, Britain, and Arab allies including Qatar, Kuwait, and Jordan.

Clinton, at a news conference after the meeting, reiterated that Qaddafi must step down.

"Today's successful Contact Group meeting was a powerful statement that our coalition remains united and committed. We reaffirmed there is only one way forward for Libya -- attacks against civilians must stop, Qaddafi must go, and the Libyan people deserve to determine their own future," Clinton said

Italy and France pledged a total of $1.02 billion to Libya's Transitional National Council, while Kuwait and Qatar offered a combined $280 million to a fund set up to provide transparent assistance to the rebel leadership.

Australia and the United States also recognized the Transitional National Council as "the legitimate interlocutor" for the Libyan people, moving closer to giving formal recognition to the body that could lift hurdles to more funding.

The meeting follows heavy NATO bombardment of targets in Tripoli this week aimed at further weakening Qaddafi's grip on power and the ability of his forces to attack civilians and rebel fighters.

Meanwhile, at the United Nations, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court said its investigators had found evidence linking Qaddafi to a policy of raping opponents.

compiled from agency reports