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France, partners prepare new Libya UN resolution

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Wed, 24 Aug 2011 14:38 GMT
Author: Reuters
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* France, partners aim to end sanctions on Libya

* Sarkozy meeting rebel leader Jibril in Paris

* French government plans "Friends of Libya" meeting

(Adds details, background)

By John Irish

PARIS, Aug 24 (Reuters) - France and its partners at the United Nations are drafting a resolution to unfreeze Libyan assets and unlock sanctions now that rebels appear close to ousting Muammar Gaddafi, a French diplomatic source said on Wednesday.

The resolution is still in the preliminary stages and will be worked out in the next few days during talks in Qatar, Turkey and New York, the source said, without giving a time frame.

"It is difficult to be precise on the details of the resolution," he said, adding that it would look at the issue of sanctions and frozen assets now that Gaddafi's 42-year-long grip on power looks to be finished.

The source said Paris was working with Britain and the United States on the draft.

The foreign ministry did not refer specifically to a new resolution, but spokesman Bernard Valero said the Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC) must be handed control of its country's resources.

"The NTC must have the financial resources that were frozen by the U.N. Security Council resolutions," Valero said.

Muammar Gaddafi vowed on Wednesday to fight to the death or victory after he was forced to abandon his Tripoli stronghold as his loyalists continued to battle rebels in the Libyan capital.

Among the NTC's biggest concerns is that the United States and others will be too slow to release billions of dollars of Gaddafi's assets, leaving the new government seeking legitimacy under tight budget ary constraints.

The U.S. State Department said on Tuesday it was seeking to free up between ${esc.dollar}1 billion and ${esc.dollar}1.5 billion of frozen Libyan government assets for the rebels within days if it can secure the blessing of the United Nations sanctions committee.

France has released about 260 million euros blocked in the Societe Generale bank belonging to a Libyan fund.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy was due to meet Libyan rebel leader Mahmoud Jibril in Paris later in the day to discuss prospects for a political transition. They will hold a news conference afterwards.

"It (unfreezing assets) is essential. We are working on this," Mansour Saif al-Nasr, the rebels' envoy in Paris , told Reuters. "All these meetings will have this on their agenda."

FRIENDS OF LIBYA

Sarkozy has also called a "Friends of Libya" conference to be held in the French capital which could bring together as many as 30 foreign leaders and international organisations to help with reconstruction and the transition to democracy.

A source said Paris aimed to hold the meeting within the next 10 days.

"France wants to unite all the friends of Libya, in other words all the countries that have supported democratic forces in Libya, to help with the reconstruction of Libya and peace," government spokeswoman Valerie Pecresse told a briefing.

Sarkozy first suggested in May such a conference that would gather the international community -- including countries that had opposed intervention in the North African oil produc ing state , like Russia, and those who had rejected Gaddafi's government.

The French president took a gamble a year before a 2012 presidential election by becoming the first foreign leader to e endorse the Libyan insurgents and by spearheading the West's military intervention.

With Gaddafi now chased out of his Tripoli stronghold, France is keen to keep up the diplomatic initiative it has taken with the Libyan crisis following its hesitant reactions to uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt early this year.

Jibril heads the NTC's executive committee and is referred to as Libya's prime minister. (Additional reporting by Daniel Flynn; Editing by Catherine Bremer and Mark Heinrich)

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