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Turkey to give Libya aid with end of evacuation, FM says

ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily News | 2/28/2011 12:00:00 AM |

Turkey says it has fulfilled the demands of its citizens wishing to leave Libya amid the unrest, and it heralds the start of a second phase of the large-scale humanitarian aid operation for Libyans. ‘There are no Turkish citizens left waiting for evacuation at the Tripoli or Benghazi airports,’ says FM Davutoğlu

Turkey has evacuated its citizens that wanted to leave strife-torn Libya, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said Monday, adding that it was now starting a large-scale humanitarian operation to aid Libyan citizens.

“There are no Turkish citizens left waiting for evacuation at the Tripoli or Benghazi airports,” Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu told a news conference at Ankara’s Esenboğa airport before departing for Geneva on Monday.

Turkey, which has roughly 25,000 citizens in Libya, has so far evacuated 17,734 people, including 577 foreign nationals, by air and by sea.

“We are now readying to begin a second stage that will include delivering food assistance to the Libyan people,” said Davutoğlu.

He made it clear that Turkey had completed its preparations, made the necessary contacts and, if requested, would be able to quickly mobilize for humanitarian assistance. The foreign minister was expected to discuss the humanitarian aid operation for Libya with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the sidelines of the Geneva meeting Monday.

There was a great need to begin a new period in Libya of respecting human rights and meeting people’s demands, Davutoğlu said, adding that he hoped a healthy transition would take place.

He repeated, however, that Turkey was not leaving Libya but only temporarily bringing its nationals home for security reasons.

“We are not of the opinion that everyone [Turks] must leave Libya,” said Davutoğlu, adding that Turkey was keeping airplanes and ships on hand if they were requested.

The U.N. Security Council imposed sanctions on Libyan leader Col. Moammar Gadhafi and people close to him in a new bid to halt the crisis and stop the bloodshed in the North African country while ordering a “crimes against humanity” investigation into his crackdown on opponents.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said over the weekend that innocent people would suffer in the face of sanctions, expressing Ankara’s opposition to the move.

Davutoğlu said Turkey was closely following the latest decision made by the Security Council on Libya, adding that Turkey would make any contribution it could regarding the implementation of the Security Council resolutions.

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