Ministers called on “the UN and countries concerned” to “unfreeze the assets and property” of Libya, in a statement released after a special meeting of the Arab foreign ministers early Sunday, Reuters reported.
Libya is in the midst of an ongoing civil war and is the stage for international hunt for embattled leader Muammar Qaddafi, who is in hiding from NATO forces and Libyan rebel opposition.
The 22-member group also called on the United Nations to give the rebel National Transitional Council (NTC) Libya’s seat at the world body, replacing that of the Colonel Qaddafi regime and allowing the rebels to become Libya’s legitimate authority at the UN.
On Friday, NTC rebel figure Mahmud Jibril had said that the West must release Libya’s frozen assets in order for a new government to succeed.
“There will be high expectations after the collapse of the regime. The frozen assets must be released for the success of the new government to be established after the Qaddafi regime,” said Mr. Jibril, number two in the rebels’ National Transitional Council (NTC).
“Salaries of civil servants need to be paid,” Mr. Jibril said. “The life needs to continue on its normal course.”
The UN Security Council had adopted a resolution to freeze the Qaddafi regime’s assets abroad after the Libyan government began cracking down on protests in February.
An estimated $20 billion was frozen by the United Kingdom and the British government is now working with allies at the UN to unfreeze the assets.
The United States held roughly $30 billion in Libyan assets earlier this year, of which $3 billion is liquid. It currently seeks to unfreeze as much as $1.5 billion in Libyan assets for humanitarian needs, a US State Department spokeswoman said last week.
Meanwhile, the United Arab Emirates has said it has frozen as much as $700 million in Libyan assets; the UAE foreign minister said last week that the only way to unfreeze those assets is through a UN Security Council resolution