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John Kerry seeks fund transfer to Libya opposition

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Senator John Kerry said on Wednesday he was drafting legislation to authorize the transfer of available cash assets of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to a Libyan opposition group.

Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said there would be "a specific amount" for the Libyan opposition Transitional National Council, but he did not have the final number yet. The rebel group has said it needs up to $3 billion to keep going in the coming months as the fighting reaches stalemate.

"I am currently drafting legislation at the request of the State Department and the administration that will authorize the transfer of available cash assets to the council so that they will have available money. It will not come from an American taxpayer, it will come from Colonel Gaddafi himself," Kerry said.

"And we are hopefully going to legislate that shortly," the Democratic senator said after meeting with leaders of the Libyan opposition group, including Mahmoud Jebril, head of the council's crisis committee.

Jebril said his message was that "we are really here to join hands to build a democratic ideal on the Libyan soil."

"We plead our cause today that we need some of those assets frozen to be defrozen immediately so we can have access to those assets and satisfy the needs of our people inside Libya," he said.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said last week that Washington would seek to unlock some of the $30 billion of Libyan state funds frozen in the United States to help the rebel movement.

(Reporting by Tabassum Zakaria; editing by Mohammad Zargham)

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