UK Politics

William Hague welcomes end to UN's sanctions on Libya

William Hague
Image caption Mr Hague says Libyans can now make transactions 'essential to everyday life'

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague has welcomed the lifting of United Nations Security Council sanctions on Libya's central and foreign investments banks.

The banks' assets abroad were frozen in February as part of sanctions against former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Mr Hague said the end of UN sanctions marked "another significant moment in Libya's transition" and would give Tripoli funds to rebuild the country.

The Security Council said the move was aimed at easing a cash crisis in Libya.

The interim government in Tripoli has recently stepped up calls for the release of some $150bn (£96bn) held abroad to pay employee salaries and keep the country's basic services running.

The Security Council had agreed last Friday to unfreeze the assets - unless there were objections - by 17:00 local time (22:00 GMT) on 16 December. As that deadline passed, no objections had been received, diplomats in New York said.

Mr Hague issued a statement saying he welcomed the lifting of sanctions imposed on the Central Bank of Libya and the Libya Arab Foreign Bank.

"It means that Libya's government will now have full access to the significant funds needed to help rebuild the country, to underpin stability and to ensure that Libyans can make the transactions that are essential to everyday life," he said.

"The transitional government must now redouble its efforts to build a transparent and accountable financial system which will underpin a newly prosperous Libya."

Mr Hague said the government would ask to European Union to allow it to free some £6.5bn being held in Britain.

US eases sanctions

Following the UN decision, the White House said in a statement that "the United States rolled back most US sanctions on the government of Libya to keep our commitment to the Libyan people".

The US Treasury said that it would "allow for the release of more than $30bn in blocked central bank and LAFB (The Libyan Arab Foreign Bank) assets.

Col Gaddafi was overthrown and his supporters defeated in October after a nine-month insurgency, which began after a crackdown on protests against the Gaddafi regime.

The National Transitional Council - a coalition of anti-Gaddafi factions - elected Abdurrahim al-Keib prime minister and his government has been tasked with drafting a constitution and holding democratic elections by June 2012

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