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LIBYA

France seeks to free frozen Libyan assets

France is working with its allies at the United Nations to draw up a resolution to unfreeze Libyan assets blocked by Security Council sanctions, a diplomatic source told AFP on Wednesday.

“The objective is to come up with a resolution,” the source said, while Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said the Libyan rebels trying to form a government after overthrowing Muammar Qaddafi needed the funds.  

“The National Transitional Council should have access to the financial resources frozen by Security Council resolutions. We are currently working to this end in New York, in close cooperation with our partners,” Valero said.  

Valero said that discussions were at a “preliminary stage” and would not confirm the report that a resolution was being drafted.  

“For France, and for all of its partners, the priority is to help the Libyans take control of their own destiny,” he said.  

Separately, British Foreign Minister William Hague said London was also working with its UN partners to free up the funds.

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IMMIGRATION

Libya conference to be held in Sicily in November: Italy

A Libya conference will be held in Sicily in November, Italy's foreign minister said Tuesday, with talks focusing on an "inclusive approach" to stabilising the war-torn north African country while not fixating on a date for elections.

Libya conference to be held in Sicily in November: Italy
The coastline of the Sicilian island of Lampedusa. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

The peace conference in Palermo on November 12 and 13 will aim to “identify the stages of a stabilisation process”, Italian Foreign Minister Enzo Moavero Milanesi told the Senate.

The meeting would drive towards “a common solution, even if there are differences of opinion between the parties involved”, he said.

Four key leaders from Libya agreed at a conference in Paris in May to hold landmark polls on December 10 as part of a French-led plan to stabilise the crisis-hit country despite ongoing violence and deep divisions.

France, however, has faced opposition to the election timetable from the United States along with other European Union countries, notably Italy.

Milanesi said he had received “confirmation of interest” in the conference from Libyan military strongman Khalifa Haftar as well as support from the US, and was planning on discussing the dossier with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Moscow on Monday.

“No deadlines will be imposed on the Libyans, nor tasks dictated,” Milanesi said.

Italy, a key supporter of the UN-backed government of Fayez al-Sarraj in Tripoli, said in September it wants to “maintain an active dialogue” with all well-intentioned actors in Libya.

The Libyan capital has been at the centre of a battle for influence between armed groups since dictator Moamer Kadhafi was driven from power and killed in a 2011 NATO-backed uprising.

Sarraj's Government of National Accord has been unable to form a functioning army or regular security forces and has been forced to rely on militias to keep Tripoli safe.

Militias formed the backbone of the uprising that toppled Kadhafi.

Since then rival administrations, including one allied with Haftar and based in the remote east, and the militias have competed for authority and oil wealth in the North African country.

Accused by his opponents of wanting to establish a new military dictatorship, Haftar refuses to recognise the authority of Sarraj's Tripoli-based GNA.

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