Libyan rebels urge return of Spanish firms

21st July 2011, Comments 0 comments

Libyan rebel leader Mahmud Jibril urged Spanish firms, including oil giant Repsol, to immediately resume full operations in Libya, which has been wracked by a five-month-long civil war.

"Spain is a very important case for us because of the strong bilateral relations either in the field of oil where Repsol is playing a major role, or in other fields where Spanish companies are helping us rebuild the infrastructure of the country," he said.

"Today with the foreign minister I extended an invitation for those companies to resume their work in Libya immediately," said Jibril, the diplomatic chief of Libya's National Transitional Council (NTC), a political body created by rebel forces battling Moamer Kadhafi's regime.

In February, Repsol, which has been present in Libya since the 1970s, halved its oil production in the country and evacuated all of its expatriate workers there because of escalating protests against Kadhafi's 42-year rule.

The same month Spanish construction giant Sacyr, which has been active in Libya since 2007, withdrew all its Spanish employees from the country.

The United States and several European nations including Spain seized billions of dollars in Libyan assets after Tripoli launched a fierce crackdown against the protests.

Jibril reaffirmed that the international community should give the NTC access to these frozen Libyan funds or let them be used as collateral for bank loans.

"Regarding the issue of money we need to either use those frozen assets as collateral or get direct access to that cash and liquid money," he told the joint news conference with Spanish Foreign Minister Trinidad Jimenez.

"The question for us is how to get urgent and immediate access to the money so we can provide for our people."

While a NATO-coordinated bombing campaign against Kadhafi's military assets has managed to prevent the fall of opposition-held cities such as Benghazi and Mistrata, it has not been able to dislodge his regime.

© 2011 AFP

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