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Austria gets nod to unfreeze some Libyan funds

Austria on Monday said it had won U.N. approval to release more than 150 million euros ($205.7 million) in frozen Libyan funds to help finance humanitarian aid in the North African country after a six-month uprising.

September 13, 2011 11:43 by

That represents an eighth of the 1.2 billion euros that Vienna ordered frozen in March during a hunt for offshore assets of Muammar Gaddafi and his inner circle, before they were overthrown by the rebellion.

Austria, which has recognised the anti-Gaddafi National Transitional Council as the leaders of Libya, needs approval from a United Nations sanctions panel to release frozen funds. Its initial two requests have gone through, a spokesman for Austria’s foreign ministry said.

“That 150 million we are unfreezing allows Libyan authorities to use it for humanitarian aid but also for fuel and these kinds of things,” the spokesman added.

The sanctions panel also approved another 350,000 euro tranche to fund the costs of the Libyan embassy in Vienna.

Another request for 150,000 euros to fund scholarships for Libyan students was due to be approved later on Monday, the ministry spokesman said.

The bulk of the frozen funds belonged to the Libyan central bank before Vienna blocked them under international sanctions.

Austrian energy group OMV last week organised an initial delivery of 30,000 tonnes of diesel fuel to Libya to help restore water and power supplies as the company started to ties with the country that used to provide a tenth of its oil. ($1 = 0.729 Euros) (Reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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