UN agrees to hand opposition group $1.5B in frozen Libyan funds

The U.N. Security Council on Thursday cleared the way for over $1 billion in frozen Libyan assets to be turned over to that nation's government-in-waiting, according to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

"Today, we have secured the release of $1.5 billion in Libyan assets that had been frozen in the United States. This money will go toward meeting the needs of the people of Libya," Clinton said in a statement released late Thursday. "We urge other nations to take similar measures. Many are already doing so."

South African and U.S. officials struck a deal Thursday hat assuaged South African concerns about releasing the frozen funds.

ADVERTISEMENT
"As funds are released, we look to the Transitional National Council" -- Libya's top opposition group, which is poised to control the nation post-Moammar Gadhafi -- "to fulfill its international responsibilities and the commitments it has made to build a tolerant, unified democratic state," Clinton said.

The $1.5 billion in Libyan funds that were frozen by U.N. sanctions against Gadhafi's regime.

U.S., NATO and Libyan opposition officials have said those funds will be key in setting up a legitimate TNC-led government to replace the Gadhafi regime that has ruled that nation for four decades.

Earlier Thursday, Deputy Secretary of State William Burns said freeing up the frozen monies would be "an important step in meeting the most immediate needs of the Libyan people." His comment came during remarks delivered in Instanbul, Turkey, at a gathering of diplomats from around the world to discuss the situation in Libya.

In her statement, Clinton urged the regime-in-waiting to avoid acts of revenge.

"It is critical that the TNC engage swiftly with communities and leaders across Libya to ensure order, provide critical basic services to the people, and pave the way for a full democratic transition," Clinton said. "Libya’s future will be peaceful only if the leaders and people of Libya reach out to each other in a spirit of peace. There can be no place in the new Libya for revenge attacks and reprisals."