News / Africa

US Seeks to Unlock Frozen Assets for Libyan Rebels

Rebel fighters take up position in the western entrance of Ajdabiyah May 1, 2011.
Rebel fighters take up position in the western entrance of Ajdabiyah May 1, 2011.

The Obama administration hopes to free up some of the $30 billion it froze in Libyan assets and give it to the country's rebels.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the plan on Thursday during an international meeting on the Libyan crisis in Rome.  

She told members of the 22-nation Libya Contact Group that U.S. authorities will examine laws that could allow Washington to tap into the assets owned by Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and his government and make the money available to help the Libyan people.

Also at the meeting, Italy's Foreign Minister Franco Frattini announced the humanitarian fund for Libya has now reached $250 million.

The head of Libya's opposition Transitional National Council, Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, is attending the conference in Rome along with NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

Ship arrives with evacuees

Migrant workers from Africa arrive by ship from Misrata during an evacuation operation organized by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) at the port of Benghazi May 5, 2011.
Migrant workers from Africa arrive by ship from Misrata during an evacuation operation organized by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) at the port of Benghazi May 5, 2011.

Meanwhile in Libya, a ship carrying at least 800 evacuees from the besieged city of Misrata docked in the eastern rebel stronghold, Benghazi.

The International Organization for Migration had chartered the vessel.  The group says as many as 50 wounded civilians were on board.

Relief workers on the ship say they waited offshore for three days as NATO minesweepers finished searching for explosives drifting in Misrata's harbor.  Pro-Gadhafi forces planted the explosives last week.

In a separate development, British Foreign Secretary William Hague ordered the expulsion of two diplomats from the Libyan embassy in London.  In a Thursday statement, Hague said the behavior of the individuals had become "unacceptable" and they should be declared "persona non grata."

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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