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Thu 15 Sep 2011 05:44 PM

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UK to unfreeze £600m of Libyan assets

UK prime minister and French president pledge more aid for Libya's new rulers

UK to unfreeze £600m of Libyan assets
UK prime minister David Cameron
UK to unfreeze £600m of Libyan assets
A spokesman for prime minister David Camerons office said Britain is releasing $944m worth of Libyan assets

UK prime minister David Cameron and French president Nicolas
Sarkozy pledged more aid for Libya’s new rulers as they became the first
foreign leaders to visit Tripoli since helping opposition forces oust Muammar Gaddafi
last month.

“This is not finished, this is not done, this is not over;
there are still parts of Libya under Gaddafi’s control, Gaddafi is still at
large and we must make sure this is completed,” Cameron told a joint news
conference today in the Libyan capital. “We will help you to find Gaddafi and
bring him to justice.”

Television pictures showed Cameron and Sarkozy being
welcomed with cheers by Libyans as they visited a Tripoli hospital. Britain is
unfreezing £600m ($950m) of Libyan assets, Cameron’s
spokesman, Steve Field, told reporters in London.

The French and British leaders were pivotal figures in
mobilizing international backing for the Libyan rebels. Cameron and Sarkozy
said they would push at the United Nations Security Council tomorrow for the
adoption of a resolution releasing more Libyan assets that were frozen under
sanctions against Gaddafi.

About three weeks after the National Transitional Council
took control of the capital, Gaddafi has eluded capture. His spokesman, Moussa
Ibrahim, says he is in Libya. The North African nation’s new leaders are
attempting to consolidate their gains, restore stability and create a
functioning government.

Forces loyal to the NTC launched an offensive to take
control of Sirte, Gaddafi’s hometown, which has resisted a peaceful handover
over the past few weeks, the Misrata Military Council said in a statement
today.

“People have constantly underrated and underestimated the
National Transitional Council; people said they couldn’t unite Libya, they were
too tribal,” Cameron said, speaking alongside NTC Chairman Mustafa Abdel Jalil
and Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril. “It has been an impressive transformation.
The roads are full, your water is flowing and your hospitals are working.”

Sarkozy said that airstrikes against pro-Gaddafi forces
“will continue as long as Libyan leaders think Libyan people are in danger.”

 “The message to Gaddafi
and all those still holding arms on his behalf is that it’s over, give up, the
mercenaries should go home,” Cameron said. “It’s time for him to give himself
up. It’s time for the Libyan people to get the justice they deserve.”

The new leaders of Libya are seeking to build a country
where there is a “rotation of power and the abandoning of terrorism,” Abdel
Jalil said. “We aspire for freedom to prevail over all Libyan soil and for the
arrest of Muammar Gaddafi alive and his trial.”

Asked whether their intervention had been influenced by a
desire to get at Libya’s oil wealth, Sarkozy said that “there were no
kickbacks, no hidden agreements to access Libya’s resources. We did what we
thought was fair.” If Libya’s new leadership chooses to work with French
companies, “it will be good. But it has to be done according to the rule of
law, through tenders.”

Giving details of the UK aid, Cameron’s spokesman said
Britain will send two soldiers to work with the US and Libyans on securing
weapons belonging to the Gaddafi regime. Their focus will be “small
surface-to-air missiles,” Field said.

Britain is also sending 1 million pounds to agencies working
on weapons decommissioning and 600,000 pounds to the Mines Advisory Group to
support its work disposing of explosives and landmines. Police in Benghazi,
Libya’s second city, will get communications equipment valued at 60,000 pounds,
and the UK is offering forensics advice to those looking for evidence of
human-rights abuses.

“We know that they have some chemical-weapons agents,” Field
said, including about 10 tons of nonweaponised mustard gas.

Sarkozy is scheduled to make a speech this afternoon in
Benghazi, the initial opposition stronghold.

Libya will resume crude exports within three or four days,
the nation’s representative to a meeting of Arab central bank governors in Doha
said on Thursday. Output will be about 700,000 barrels a day by the end of this
year and an estimated 1.6 million barrels a day by the end of 2012, Abdulla
Saudi told reporters in the Qatari capital.

The United Nations Credentials Committee decided yesterday
the NTC should represent Libya at the UN General Assembly next week, in what
would be a major step toward international acceptance of the group.

Britain has put forward a draft resolution to the UN
Security Council to end an asset freeze on Libyan National Oil Corp. and
Zueitina Oil Co, according to a Western diplomat who spoke on condition of not
being identified. The 15-member body may vote on the measure tomorrow, the
diplomat said.

Adoption of the resolution also would permit the Central Bank
of Libya, the Libyan Foreign Bank, the Libyan Investment Authority and the
Libyan Africa Investment Portfolio to use their assets for specified purposes.
Those include purchases of humanitarian aid; fuel, electricity and water for
civilian use; and the strengthening of Libya’s government and economy.

Sarkozy said France will ask Niger tomorrow to hand over Gaddafi
family members and supporters who have sought refuge on its soil. He said he
was “confident” Niger would respect international law.

One of Gaddafi’s sons, Saadi, has gone to Niger and was
transferred two days ago to a house in the presidential villa in the capital,
Niamey, according to police.

“In the 21st century, dictators must know they can have
nowhere to run to,” Sarkozy said. “Impunity is over.”