Turkey officially recognizes Libyan rebels

Turkey - MAP - Turkey has officially recognized Libya's rebels and offered at least $200 million in aid as part of a diplomatic shift away from the regime of longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Ahmet Davutoglu, the Turkish foreign minister, met with rebel leaders in Benghazi during a one-day visit to the country on Sunday. He said his country now recognised the opposition National Transitional Council (NTC) as the legitimate representative of the Libyan people.

At the same time, Turkey officially withdrew its ambassador from Tripoli. Salim Levent Sahinkaya had left the Libyan capital in March due to the fighting and had not returned or been replaced.

Turkey has long maintained business ties with Gaddafi's Libya and initially expressed disapproval for NATO air strikes that sought to halt a regime advance on the rebel-held east. But since that campaign began, Turkey has distanced itself.

Speaking to reporters on Sunday, Davutoglu called Libya a "rising star" and said Turkey wanted to see the country succeed.

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