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LIBYA: U.S. pushes U.N. resolution to unfreeze Libyan assets

August 24, 2011 | 10:53 am

U.S. officials plan to present a draft resolution to the United Nations Security Council Wednesday asking members to unfreeze $1.5 billion in Libyan assets, a council diplomat told Reuters.

The diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he did not expect a vote on the resolution on Wednesday.

“It's for urgent humanitarian needs in Libya,” the diplomat said.

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The diplomat said the decision to submit a draft resolution came after the Security Council's Libya sanctions committee failed to act on a similar request by U.S. officials earlier this month.

A diplomat told Reuters that South African officials had objected to the unfreezing of Libyan assets. Another diplomat said U.S. and South African officials were discussing the issue. A third diplomat said South Africa was not alone in objecting to the release of Libya's assets, that Russia and others had reservations about the proposal to aid the rebel government, whose forces claimed to control most of Tripoli Wednesday.

"People want to make sure that the money isn't going to be used by one side for military action," the diplomat told Reuters.

The committee works on the basis of consensus, which means all 15 members have a virtual veto. By presenting a resolution to the council, the United States would bypass the committee. Council resolutions need nine votes and no vetoes from the five permanent council members to pass.

If the committee members' objections remain, the U.S. delegation could call for a vote on the resolution Thursday or Friday, a diplomat told Reuters.

The United States hopes to be able to announce the release of up to $1.5 billion to the rebels on Thursday, when Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns attends a meeting in Istanbul of members of the Libyan Contact Group, a U.S. official told Reuters.

"We are not quite there yet at the [Security] Council but I understand we are making progress," said the U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

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-- Molly Hennessy-Fiske

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