US releases frozen Libyan funds to rebels

The U.S. government is releasing $700 million worth of frozen Libyan assets to help the Transitional National Council, the country’s rebel interim government.

The funds will help the TNC pay fuel costs and salaries; they represent just a small portion of the $37 billion in assets tied to dictator Moammar Gadhafi that the U.S. has frozen.

In a post on Treasury’s website, David Cohen, an under secretary at the department, wrote that the fund release underscored the U.S. commitment to the Libyan rebels.

“With this initial release of frozen assets, we are taking another important step to help the TNC build a state that reflects the aspirations of the Libyan people,” Cohen wrote.

Foreign leaders are currently meeting in Paris to discuss next steps for Libya, with forces loyal to Gadhafi largely marginalized. The TNC, according to news media reports, appears to have given Gadhafi and his troops until Sept. 10 to surrender, a week later than the previous deadline.