Turkey's foreign minister has urged the United Nations to unfreeze Libyan assets to help the North African country move forward following the uprising against Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.
Ahmet Davutoglu made the call Thursday in Istanbul, where diplomats from around 30 countries are meeting to discuss ways to support Libya's opposition. The Libya Contact Group includes delegates from the U.N., the European Union, NATO, the African Union and the Libyan rebel government, known as the National Transitional Council.
On Wednesday, the United States asked the U.N. Security Council to release $1.5 billion in Libyan assets. The assets were frozen in February by a U.N. resolution imposing tough sanctions on Mr. Gadhafi in response to his use of violence on protesters.
The rebel leadership says it needs the funds to pay state salaries and maintain humanitarian services.
South Africa has voiced opposition to the U.S. proposal. South Africa's U.N. ambassador, Baso Sangqu, said Wednesday that Pretoria does not object to releasing $500 million for humanitarian aid, but added he is concerned about any additional monies being released to the National Transitional Council.
He said South Africa has not yet recognized the council as the sole and legal representative of the Libyan people.
The African Union and the U.N. Security Council are to discuss Libya later Thursday.
A U.S. official said Washington will bring the issue to a U.N. vote on Thursday or Friday so the funds can be released quickly.
Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.