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LIBYA: Rebel capital moving, assets unfrozen

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A Libyan rebel government Cabinet minister said the Transitional National Council leadership plans to immediately move to Tripoli from Benghazi, the Associated Press reported.

Meanwhile, the AP also reported that the United States and South Africa reached a deal Thursday that will release $1.5 billion in frozen Libyan assets in American banks, which the U.S. is earmarking for the cash-strapped rebels fighting to oust Moammar Kadafi.

South Africa had blocked agreement in the Security Council committee monitoring sanctions against Libya on unfreezing the money because officials thought it implied recognition of the Transitional National Council. The rebel government has yet to be recognized by South Africa, the African Union or the United Nations.

Mark Kornblau, spokesman for the U.S. mission to the United Nations, said the U.S. never intended for its request to unfreeze the Libyan assets to imply recognition of any government. He said the wording has been changed to say the money will go to “relevant authorities” and the U.S. will earmark the $1.5 billion for the Transitional National Council.

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U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice welcomed the decision to release the money “to meet the critical humanitarian needs of the Libyan people.”

“Today’s action demonstrates the international community’s solidarity with the brave people of Libya at this historic moment,” Rice said in a statement.

--Molly Hennessy-Fiske

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