UPDATE 1-Germany seeks 60-day freeze on Libya payments

Mon Feb 28, 2011 12:46pm GMT
 

* Foreign minister proposes Libya financial transfer freeze

* Westerwelle makes proposal after meeting Hillary Clinton

(Adds quotes, background)

GENEVA, Feb 28 (Reuters) - German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said on Monday he was proposing a 60-day freeze on all financial payments to Libya to prevent money from going to embattled leader Muammar Gaddafi.

"We are therefore working to ensure that all financial flows are cut off," Westerwelle told reporters after a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. "The new consideration is to freeze all payments to Libya for the next 60 days."

Westerwelle said he was speaking only for Germany, but that he believed other countries were open to the idea.

"We must do everything to ensure that no money is going into the hands of the Libyan dictator's family, and that they have no opportunity to hire new foreign soldiers to repress their people," he said.

Asked if the German proposal would cover European oil payments to Libya, he indicated it did.

"We suggest that those bills are frozen, that those payments are frozen," he said, adding that it did not amount to permanently reneging on payment.

Westerwelle, Clinton and other world foreign ministers are in Geneva for a meeting of the U.N. Human Rights Council which is expected to focus on the crisis in Libya, where Gaddafi is violently suppressing a spreading revolt against his rule.

The United States, Britain and the U.N. Security Council have already imposed sanctions on Gaddafi and his close associates, and Clinton said the next steps should be aimed at creating further economic pain and diplomatic isolation for the long-time North African ruler. (Reporting by Andrew Quinn; Editing by Louise Ireland)

 
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