France and UN partners drafting resolution to unfreeze assets and end sanctions


LIBYAN ASSETS:PARIS – France and its partners at the United Nations are drafting a resolution to unfreeze Libyan assets and unlock sanctions now that rebels appear close to ousting Col Muammar Gadafy, a French diplomatic source said yesterday.

The resolution is still in the preliminary stages and will be worked out in the next few days during talks in Qatar, Turkey and New York, the source said, without giving a timeframe.

“It is difficult to be precise on the details of the resolution,” he said, adding that it would look at the issue of sanctions and frozen assets now that Col Gadafy’s 42-year grip on power appears to be over.

The source said Paris was working with Britain and the US on the draft.

The French foreign ministry did not refer specifically to a new resolution, but spokesman Bernard Valero said the Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC) must be handed control of its country’s resources.

“The NTC must have the financial resources that were frozen by the UN Security Council resolutions,” Mr Valero said.

Col Gadafy vowed yesterday to fight to the death or to victory after he was forced to abandon his Tripoli stronghold as his loyalists continued to battle rebels in the Libyan capital.

Among the NTC’s biggest concerns is that the US and others will be too slow to release billions of dollars of Col Gadafy’s assets, leaving the new government seeking legitimacy under tight budgetary constraints.

The US state department said on Tuesday it was seeking to free up between $1 billion (€693 million) and $1.5 billion of frozen Libyan government assets for the rebels within days if it can secure the blessing of the UN sanctions committee.

France has released about €260 million blocked in the Société Générale bank belonging to a Libyan fund.

French president Nicolas Sarkozy was due to meet Libyan rebel leader Mahmoud Jibril in Paris later in the day to discuss prospects for a political transition.

Mr Sarkozy has also called for a “Friends of Libya” conference to be held in the French capital which could bring together as many as 30 foreign leaders and international organisations to help with reconstruction and the transition to democracy.

Mr Jibril heads the NTC’s executive committee and is referred to as Libya’s prime minister.

He was also due to meet Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi in Milan today.

Once Col Gadafy’s closest European ally, Rome has aggressively courted the rebels since abruptly switching sides to back them in April after a Nato bombing campaign began. – (Reuters)