UN committee allows Britain to send $1.6 billion to Libya

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The UN sanctions committee on Libya on Tuesday gave Britain the greenlight to release $1.6 billion in seized assets to buy emergency aid, after China lifted a block, diplomats said.

Germany also has asked to release about one billion euros ($1.4 billion dollars) in seized assets, and France wants to unfreeze about five billion euros ($7.2 billion) to help buy humanitarian aid and keep essential services going in Libya. It was not immediately known if they have been given the green light, however.

China's UN mission, a key member of the UN Security Council sanctions committee, lifted its block on Britain's move after getting approval from the Beijing government, diplomats said.

The money held in Britain is 1.86 billion Libyan dinar in banknotes printed by a British firm.

Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague welcomed the decision to let his government send back the 200 million banknotes to Libya's central bank.

"This represents another major step forward in getting necessary assistance to the Libyan people, building on the remarkable progress in recent days," Hague said in a statement released at the UN headquarters.

"These banknotes, which were frozen in the UK under UN sanctions, will help address urgent humanitarian needs, instill confidence in the banking sector, pay salaries of key public sector workers and free up liquidity in the economy."

The United States was given approval 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 Libya's rebel government fighting Moamer Kadhafi.

© 2011 AFP

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