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UN to unfreeze 1.5 bin U.S. dollars in Libyan assets: diplomat

(Xinhua)

10:10, August 26, 2011

UNITED NATIONS, Aug. 25 (Xinhua) -- The United Nations will release 1.5 billion U.S. dollars in Libyan assets after the United States and South Africa reached deal Thursday on the issue, a U.S. diplomat said.

The last-minute deal meant that the United States would not press for a vote at the UN Security Council to force the release of the assets.

Mark Kornblau, a spokesperson for the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, said the deal clears the way for the United States to give the money for humanitarian needs.

The U.S. proposal to release a portion of Libyan assets had faced opposition from South Africa, a non-permanent member of the 15-member Security Council in a UN committee on Libyan sanctions. Proposals in the sanctions committee, which works by consensus, require the support of all 15 members to be approved.

South Africa had expressed reservations that it implied recognition of the opposition National Transitional Council (NTC), which the African Union has not recognized.

A spokesperson of the South African UN mission told reporters that her delegation had told the United States that South Africa " would withdraw its objection to the release of the money" as long as there is no reference whatsoever to ... the NTC."

"Because if it's NTC, it means that we are agreeing as the 15 collective council members to say yes to the NTC and we have not all recognized it," she said.

Diplomats said the U.S. delegation agreed to reword the official request to the sanctions committee, enabling the South African delegation to support it. The unfreezing of the assets was expected to become official later on Thursday, according to diplomats.

"The United States welcomes today's decision by the UN Libya Sanctions Committee to unfreeze 1.5 billion U.S. dollars to meet critical needs of the Libyan people," said a statement issued by U. S. Ambassador Susan Rice after the accord.

"We will continue to work with partners to support the people of Libya as they chart a democratic, prosperous and secure future, " she said in a statement.

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