Qatar will provide fuel, medicine, food and other humanitarian needs to the Libyan opposition as part of a deal to market oil from eastern Libya, a top opposition finance official said on Friday.
"The Qataris agreed they would market crude oil for us, and we would put the money in an escrow account. We will receive what we need in fuel, medicine, food and humanitarian needs from them," Ali Tarhouni told a news conference.
"Our demands are simple and clear, our top priority is lifting the sanctions that stop us exporting our oil," he said, adding that the issue of lifting sanctions had been raised with a visiting U.N. envoy, Abdelilah al-Khatib.
He also said rebels had set up a "quasi-ministry of oil" and oil staff were now working under that body or for the east-based Arabian Gulf Oil Company, which has said it has cut ties with its parent, state-owned National Oil Corp.
Salah Hedin, a senior member of the council's foreign affairs committee, said the UN envoy came to Benghazi “to see the transitional national council about the situation and the needs of the people. We hope he will see for himself the effect on east Libya."
Hedin was part of a welcoming party waiting for the envoy at an abandoned military airfield outside Benghazi. The party included a U.N. security detail and armed opposition militiamen.
Hedin said al-Khatib would stay in Benghazi for about four hours and that the visit was a follow-up to the London meeting. He said it was his second visit to the opposition-held region and he was in Tobruk 10 days ago.
Tahrouni, a U.S.-based academic in charge of finance and economics for the interim government, told Reuters as he headed into the meeting with al-Khatib: "He's here for a first-hand look to assess everything -- the council, the people."
"We want the continued support of allied forces," Tahrouni said. "The main thing we need is recognition of the national council as the legitimate government and the lifting of sanctions," including on oil exports.
"We want to show we are putting our house in order and this will help with recognition," he added.
Qatar became the first Arab country to recognize Libya's opposition on Monday. France has also recognized the opposition council as representative of Libya.