Canada aims to unlock $2 billion in Libyan assets

31st August 2011, Comments 0 comments

Ottawa aims to free up more than two billion dollars in seized Libyan assets held by Canadian banks to aid reconstruction in the conflict-torn North African country, a government spokesman said Tuesday.

"We are looking at options as to how to proceed to unfreeze assets and put them toward that use," the spokesman told reporters ahead of Canadian Premier Stephen Harper's participation in a meeting of 30 world leaders in Paris to discuss Libya's future without dictator Moamer Kadhafi, who is now on the run.

Canada is looking to unfreeze CAN$2 billion (2.04 billion dollars).

Harper, however, is "not going to this (Paris) meeting with a shopping list of what it's prepared to offer" to help achieve democracy in Libya.

"We will have to see what the (Libyan rebel) National Transitional Council has for objectives," the Canadian premier's spokesman said ahead of Thursday's meeting in the French capital.

The UN's Libya sanctions committee has allowed Britain to release $1.6 billion in frozen assets to buy emergency aid.

France and Germany are still waiting for approval to free more than $8.6 billion in assets that they seized as part of UN action against Kadhafi.

The United States was allowed to send about $1.5 billion in seized assets back to Libya last week, after a dispute with South Africa over whether easing UN sanctions implied recognizing the rebels who have fought Kadhafi for months.

Canada is a key nation in the NATO-led alliance that has conducted an aerial bombing campaign against the dictator's regime since March, when the United Nations approved military action to protect civilians.

Ottawa has contributed six F-18 fighter jets and a frigate, and the NATO mission is led by a Canadian, Lieutenant-General Charles Bouchard.

En route to the talks in Paris, Harper will make a stopover in Italy to meet with Bouchard and to thank the 655 Canadian troops supporting the NATO mission.

© 2011 AFP

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