Italy, a longtime ally of Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi, has pledged to support the opposition government in Libya.
At a meeting in Turkey, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said his country will extend 100 mllion euros in credit to rebels of the next week, and is prepared to give up to 300 million euros more if needed.
Both Turkey and the United States have said they will lend funds to the rebel government in Libya. Turkey invited Russia and China to the talks, but both declined to participate.
The contract is an important move for Italy. The country has been slow to fully support rebels, and Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has been reluctant to break ties with his friend Colonel Gaddafi. Italy is a member of NATO, but had not initally shown the aggression that France, England and the United states had in the military campaign against the Tripoli regime.
For some time, Italy pushed for negotiations between the Libyan government and rebels, but both sides, along with NATO, resisted.
I have the impression that Gaddafi's government is not representative of the real situation in Libya anymore nor of the will of the Libyan people, Economic Development Minister Paolo Romani said in Rome.
On Wednesday, Gaddafi's cabinet said they are banning Italian energy company Eni from Libya. Italy gets about 15 percent of its oil from Libya, and before the civil war, Eni produced about 17 percent of Libya's daily barrel output. Libya is looking to sell Eni's contract to Russia and China.
Since the Libyan conflict started, oil production has slowed to a crawl.
Libya said that Italy's involvement in NATO operations led them to cancel the Eni contract, signaling that the most recent chapter in the long -tanding partnership between Italy and its former colony is coming on an end.