August 22, 2011 / 4:25 PM / 7 years ago

U.S. keeps freeze on Libya assets for now

WASHINGTON, Aug 22 (Reuters) - The United States is keeping in place for now a freeze on billions of dollars of Libyan government assets, although the Treasury Department is considering how to provide financial assistance to rebel groups, an Obama administration official said on Monday.

More than 30 nations have recognized the rebel group, known as the Transitional National Council, or TNC, including six Arab countries, as the legitimate governing authority for Libya. The recognition has increased the likelihood the group will obtain access to funding, the official said.

The U.S. Treasury is working with international partners on ways to provide further financial assistance to the TNC but there are legal issues that must be addressed, the official said without providing details.

The Obama administration has imposed unilateral sanctions against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and his family, including shutting off access to more than $35 billion in Libyan government assets since February. Those sanctions remain in place, the official said.

But Treasury is examining a legal framework that could pave the way for making some frozen Libyan government assets held in U.S. accounts available to the leadership of the TNC, the official said.

Gaddafi’s whereabouts were unclear on Monday, although rebel forces appeared to be in control of much of the capital, Tripoli. (Reporting by Margaret Chadbourn; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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