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Originally published Thursday, November 22, 2012 at 12:30 PM

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Libyan leader opposes foreign aid to Syrian rebels

The interim president of Libya, who came to power following a NATO-supported rebellion against former leader Moammar Gadhafi, said Thursday he opposed foreign intervention in Syria.

The Associated Press

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TUNIS, Tunisia —

The interim president of Libya, who came to power following a NATO-supported rebellion against former leader Moammar Gadhafi, said Thursday he opposed foreign intervention in Syria.

Speaking at press conference with his Tunisian counterpart, Mohammed al-Megarif said he also opposed arming the Syrian opposition which has been battling the regime of President Bashar Assad for the last year and a half, with thousands of lives lost.

The two leaders, both products of the wave of uprisings that swept the Middle East in 2011, did call for Assad to step down.

Like the conflict in Syria, the uprising that overthrew former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi turned into a civil war and the rebels only triumphed with the aid of a NATO campaign of airstrikes and the supply of sophisticated weapons.

Syria's rebels have repeatedly called for greater material international support, but little has been forthcoming, in part because of international concerns over the lack of unity in the opposition.

Al-Megarif also said that he and Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki were withholding recognition of the new Syrian opposition coalition until they could evaluate how representative it was.

Al-Megarif's visit to Tunisia comes with a $200 million offer of aid to the Tunisian economy to "support its development."

The Tunisian economy, which relies heavily on tourism and exports to Europe, has been severely battered by the unrest that accompanied the overthrow of its long-ruling dictator in January 2011.

"It is the first financial interaction which will be followed by others as we solidify the excellent relations linking the two countries," said Marzouki.

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