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LIBYA: Push to unfreeze Libyan assets

August 25, 2011 |  2:38 pm

Berlusconi
United Nations Security Council diplomats said Thursday that South Africa would probably drop its opposition to unfreezing $1.5 billion in Libyan assets in U.S. banks, according to the Associated Press.

The diplomats spoke on condition of anonymity because negotiations have been taking place behind closed doors in New York.

The Libyan opposition said it urgently needed at least $5 billion in frozen assets to pay state salaries, maintain vital services and repair key oil facilities. Analysts estimate that as much as $110 billion is frozen in banks worldwide.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said Thursday during a meeting with one of the leaders of Libya's new rebel government visiting Milan that Italy planned to release $505 million in frozen Libyan assets.

Britain pressed South Africa, a non-permanent member of the Security Council, to drop its opposition to a U.S. proposal to unfreeze $1.5 billion in Libyan assets in American banks for urgent humanitarian needs.

Mark Kornblau, spokesman for the U.S. mission to the United Nations, said the United States planned to call for a vote late Thursday on a Security Council resolution to release the funds unless South African officials change their mind and join consensus in the council committee monitoring sanctions against Libya.

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-- Molly Hennessy-Fiske

Photo: Mahmoud Jibril, left, deputy chairman of the Libyan Transitional National Council executive board, and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi at a news conference in Milan on Thursday. Credit: Jacopo Raule/Getty Images

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