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Western, Arab nations pledge financial support for Libyan rebels

05-06-2011 14:04 BJT Special Report:Int'l Intervention in Libya |

ROME/TRIPOLI, May 6 (Xinhua) -- A contact group of Western and Arab countries have pledged to create a special fund worth millions of U.S. dollars to help Libyan rebels oust Muammar Gaddafi.

While the institution of the so-called Temporary Financial Mechanism (TFM) was the centerpiece accomplishment of Thursday's meeting of the Contact Group on Libya, the amount firmly committed -- 180 million U.S. dollars, all of it from the government of Kuwait -- was far short of the 2 to 3 billion dollars the rebels said they needed.

Funding for humanitarian efforts came stronger, with pledges reaching 245 million dollars. But the main funding mechanism for humanitarian initiatives, a proposal to unfreeze some of the Libyan state assets and Libyan leader Gaddafi's personal assets held outside the country for the rebels, will be decided by the United Nations.

The U.S. Department of Treasury has frozen some 30 billion dollars in assets owned by the Libyan government on U.S. soil.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in Rome Thursday that the United States is trying to free up some of the money to support the Libyan opposition, whose forces have been unable to make gains on the ground though under the cover of NATO-led air raids.

In Tripoli,the Libyan government slammed the U.S. plan, saying: "Any use of the frozen assets is like piracy on the high seas."

In Washington, the U.S. government imposed sanctions on Libya's state broadcaster and two other government-owned companies.

The Department of Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) on Thursday identified Libyan Jamahiriya Broadcasting Corporation, Dalia Advisory Ltd. and Lafico Algeria Holdings as subject to sanctions.

The sanctions result in the freezing of their assets within U.S. jurisdiction and the prohibition of U.S. persons from engaging in business with them.

"The United Nations and countries around the world are locking down the government of Libya's assets to prevent the Gaddafi regime from sponsoring further bloodshed," said OFAC Director Adam J. Szubin.

In the United Nations, UN spokesman Farhan Haq relayed the message of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Thursday that the international community's swift and decisive action in Libya saved thousands of lives and prevented a humanitarian catastrophe.

The message was conveyed after Ban delivered a statement to the Contact Group meeting in Rome.

According to Haq, Ban "emphasized the need to ensure unrestricted access for humanitarian assistance and to coordinate international efforts in this regard."

The secretary-general said that there is consensus that any ceasefire agreement amongst the parties to the conflict "should be credible and verifiable, and consistent with (UN Security Council) resolution 1973."

More than 665,000 people have now fled Libya and as of Sunday more than 12,000 people were evacuated from the rebel bastion city of Misrata, according to reports from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Also on Thursday, several hundred tribal elders gathered in the Libyan capital, which the government viewed as a show of widespread support for Gadhafi. But Libyan rebels dismissed it as bogus.

Editor:Yang Jie |Source: Xinhua

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