$30 bn in Libyan assets frozen in US

Monday, February 28, 2011

WASHINGTON - The US has frozen at least $30 billion in Libyan assets since enacting sanctions to punish embattled leader Muammar Gaddafi for the violent crackdown on protesters, a US official said.

David Cohen, the Treasury Department’s acting under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said Monday the financial action was the largest of its kind in US history.

US President Barack Obama Friday ordered sanctions on Gaddafi and his government, and the Treasury Department was prepared to swifty implement the measures, Cohen said.

“I can report that as of today at least 30 billion (dollars) in government of Libya assets under US jurisdiction have been blocked as a result of the executive order issued by President Obama,” Cohen said. “This is the largest blocking under any sanctions programme ever.”

The European Union announced Monday it was enacting sanctions on Libya. Obama has been in close touch with European leaders to coordinate the international response to the bloodshed in Libya as Gaddafi clings to power.

Obama met with UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon Monday for discussions on the crisis in Libya, the US ambassador to the UN, told reporters at the White House.

Meanwhile, the US military is positioning forces in the region near Libya in case they are needed, a Pentagon spokesman said Monday, according to reports.

Colonel Dave Lapan said naval and air forces were being repositioned as part of contingency plans as the US continues to weigh options for responding to the crisis in Libya, ABC News reported. Lapan did not provide details.

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Monday in Geneva that the military was preparing for possible humanitarian missions, and that setting up a no-fly zone was discussed in her meetings with diplomats on the sidelines of a UN Human Rights Council meeting.

“We will continue to explore all possible options for action,” she said. “As we have said, nothing is off the table so long as the Libyan government continues to threaten and kill Libyans.”

ABC News also reported the USS Enterprise aircraft carrier was stationed in the Red Sea and could be used to enforce a no-fly zone.

Filed under: Diplomacy

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