UN Drops Sanctions on Libyan Oil Companies, Eases Bank Rules

The United Nations Security Council dropped sanctions today on two Libyan oil companies and eased restrictions on four banks in a move to boost the nation’s recovery from the war that toppled dictator Muammar Qaddafi.

The Security Council voted 15-0 to adopt a resolution that unfreezes the assets of the Libyan National Oil Corporation and Zueitina Oil Company. The measure permits the Central Bank of Libya, the Libyan Foreign Bank, the Libyan Investment Authority and the Libyan Africa Investment Portfolio to purchase humanitarian aid, fuel, electricity and to back efforts to strengthen the nation’s government and economy.

“We all stand witness to the birth of a new Libya,” U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice said after the vote, referring also to the General Assembly’s decision earlier today to recognize the National Transitional Council as Libya’s representative at the UN.

The UN members voted 114-17 to permit envoys of the opposition group to take Libya’s seat at meetings of the world body, including the General Assembly next week. Venezuela and Cuba led opposition to the move, and 15 nations abstained from the vote.

The Qaddafi regime had retained authority to represent Libya at the UN, though no diplomats have occupied the seat since February.

Meeting With Abdel Jalil

President Barack Obama is scheduled to meet with the NTC’s chairman, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, next week. Obama plans to congratulate Abdel Jalil on the defeat of Qaddafi’s forces and to discuss transition plans, Ben Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security adviser, said today.

Ibrahim Dabbashi, Libya’s deputy UN ambassador before he defected from the Qaddafi regime in February, represented Libya at the Security Council table.

“Today is undoubtedly a decisive, historic day in the life of the Libyan people,” Dabbashi said. “It is an indication that dictatorship has fallen. A period of terror, of denial of freedom and of violations of human rights has now come to an end for the Libyan people. The fact that the NTC today takes Libya’s seat at the UN indicates that a new page has been opened in the history of the Libyan people.”

The resolution eases the arms embargo on Libya, allowing the UN and the NTC to bring in light weapons. It ends the ban on all flights by Libyan aircraft.

The Security Council also established a UN mission to promote economic recovery, restore public security and services, protect human rights and coordinate delivery of international aid. The UN Support Mission in Libya was given an initial mandate of three months.

The UN-mandated no-fly zone remains in effect, subject to Security Council review.

Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, saying the no-fly zone has been “violated arbitrarily,” said the Security Council should consider lifting it in the near future.

(Updates with Rice comments in third paragraph, Dabbashi in seventh and eighth paragraphs and Churkin in 12th paragraph.)
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