China blocks Europe moves to free money for Libya: envoys

30th August 2011, Comments 0 comments

China has held up moves by Britain, France and Germany to get a UN sanctions committee to release five billion dollars of frozen Libyan assets to buy emergency aid, diplomats said Monday.

The United States had to threaten to seek a full UN Security Council resolution last week to get South Africa to end its hold on the release of 1.5 billion dollars in frozen Libyan regime assets.

This time China's UN mission is seeking authority from the Beijing government before approving the bid by the European nations to get humanitarian aid to Libya.

Britain wanted to release about one billion pounds ($1.6 billion) of Libyan currency printed by a British firm, British officials said.

Germany has asked the sanctions committee to "to authorize the release of up to one billion euros from assets of the Libyan Central Bank frozen in Germany," said a spokesman for the German UN mission.

"It is our objective to make these funds available to the Libyan people, as soon as possible, in particular for humanitarian assistance," the spokesman added.

France has also asked for more than one billion euros to be released, diplomats said.

Normally such requests are passed by the UN's Libya sanctions committee if no objection is made for a three day period after an application is made. None of the missions commented on whether the applications had passed but UN diplomats said China had put a block on the European requests.

A freeze on assets by Moamer Kadhafi's regime and entities linked to the government was ordered by the UN Security Council in February and March as Kadhafi stepped up his deadly crackdown on opposition protests. All 15 Security Council members sit on the sanctions committee.

"We are hoping this is just a glitch and that the Chinese mission will soon get instructions," a Western diplomat said.

South Africa held up a US application to release funds in US banks for more than two weeks because of concerns that it could imply recognition of the Libyan rebel government.

South Africa and the African Union has not yet recognized the national transitional council which is now in Tripoli.

A deal under which a US request did not mention the rebel government by name avoided a vote on a full Security Council resolution to have the funds freed.

The UN Security Council is to discuss Libya on Tuesday.

© 2011 AFP

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