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Italy unfreezes 350 mln euros in Libyan assets

Eni to sign accord providing oil and gas to Libyans

25 August, 15:28
Italy unfreezes 350 mln euros in Libyan assets (ANSA) - Milan, August 25 - The Italian government has moved to immediately unfreeze 350 million euros of Libyan assets held in Italian banks, Premier Silvio Berlusconi said in Milan on Thursday.

Berlusconi made the announcement at a media conference in Milan with the head of the Libyan National Transitional Council, Mahmoud Jibril, after they met Paolo Scaroni, chief executive of the Italian power giant, Eni.

The prime minister said the Italian government and the council had decided to set up "a joint committee between the two governments" to work together in anticipation of the fall of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Violent clashes between Libyan rebel forces and Gaddafi loyalists continued in the capital Tripoli on Thursday.

Late Wednesday loyalists launched Scud missiles from Gaddafi's hometown of Sirte at the capital and also fired on insurgents in Misurata.

At the media conference with Jibril, Berlusconi said there would be no "vengeful measures towards the losers" from the council as it seeks to form a new government.

"He (Jibril) confirmed what he told me on the telephone that there was a willingness to include all members of political and social forces in the next government and a strong determination to avoid any kind of vengeful action towards the losers," Berlusconi said.

The premier said that the Italian government had a "willingness" to train police and other security officials in Libya and to help with people's needs from education to health.

While the council earlier said it was seeking $5 billion in immediate aid, Jibril said in Milan he was grateful for Italy's support.

"I thank the prime minister for giving immediate instructions to unfreeze the assets," Jibril said. "The 350 million euros can launch emergency activities like gathering arms on the streets and starting services for the people".

Berlusconi and Jibril were photographed standing in front of a new Libyan flag, which is the resurrection of the flag flown before Gaddafi assumed power in 1969.

On Monday Eni will sign an accord with the council in the Libyan city of Benghazi "for the provision of enormous quantities of gas and oil to meet the needs of the people", Berlusconi said.

Scaroni said that Libyan gas comprised 10-12% of Eni's total and that he was not worried about the security of supplies even though winter was approaching.

"Ours is an accord for supply and technical assistance, with the goal of helping the transitional council in its difficult role," Scaroni said.

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