UN Security Council to ease Libya sanctions, diplomats say

The UN Security Council could pass a resolution next week easing an asset freeze and arms embargo against Libya to help launch a UN mission in the country, diplomats said Friday.

The council would approve a UN mission for an initial three months to concentrate on helping the transitional government to organize elections and write a new constitution, diplomats said.

Britain, which is drawing up the resolution on Libya, hopes to send a draft version to other council members on Monday aiming to hold a vote before the end of the week, said a UN diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon set out plans for the mission in a letter to the 15-member Security Council, which was briefed on Friday by Ian Martin, Ban's Libya advisor, who is expected to head the mission.

The UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) would advise the transitional government on efforts to "restore public security and order and promote the rule of law" but there is no plan to send uniformed police to help Libyan authorities, Martin told reporters.

He said security is improving, even though the national transitional council does not control all the country, and schools are to reopen on September 17.

The United States, Britain, Germany and other nations have already been given approval by the UN sanctions committee to release funds. The western nations want a broader lifting of the measures, however, to speed up the return of funds to the government.

The Security Council imposed an assets freeze and travel ban on Moammar Qaddafi, relatives and close aides in February and March when it approved military action to protect civilians in Libya.
"The arms embargo may also need to be eased to help the government but not completely lifted, the diplomat added.

Russia and China led a group of countries on the Security Council which strongly opposed the NATO airstrikes in Libya, saying they had gone outside the UN Security Council Resolutions 1970 and 1973 which approved military action over Qaddafi's crackdown on protests.

-AFP/NOW Lebanon

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