EU to Unfreeze Libya Assets Once UN Approves

The European Union is preparing to unfreeze Libyan assets quickly once the United Nations gives its approval, the bloc's foreign policy chief said Tuesday.

Libya's transitional administration will need funds to make sure public sector workers like policemen or nurses are paid, stores have sufficient supplies and the economy can be developed again, Catherine Ashton said in Brussels. She held discussions with the EU's 27 member states, the leader of the Libyan National Transitional Council Mahmoud Jibril and the U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

"This is a rich country. The question is how to get the economy moving again quickly," the EU foreign policy chief said.

Ashton did not say whether the EU was pushing for sanctions to be lifted before strongman Muammar Qaddafi's regime is officially toppled.

However, an EU official said that it was up to the individual member states to decide when exactly to remove the sanctions, which on top of asset freezes also include travel bans for people close to the regime. The official declined to be named in line with the EU's policy for technical briefings.

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Libyan rebels currently control about 80 percent of Tripoli, Ashton said, citing her conversation with Jibril.

EU nations are also looking to provide aid, medical supplies and fuel needed in the capital, Ashton said, adding that the rebel forces were expecting conflict around Qaddafi's compound.

She said she will travel to New York Friday to discuss the strategy on Libya with officials from the Arab League, the African Union and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation under the auspices of the U.N.