April 14, 2011 / 7:18 PM / in 7 years

Expansion of UN Libya blacklist delayed-diplomats

* China, Russia, India demand more time on Libya sanctions

* Unclear when UN sanctions panel can expand blacklist

By Louis Charbonneau

UNITED NATIONS, April 14 (Reuters) - U.N. Security Council plans to expand a list of Libyan individuals and firms subject to U.N. sanctions have hit a snag due to Russian, Chinese and Indian demands for more time, diplomats said on Thursday.

Diplomats said the resistance of the three countries was worrying, since they have become increasingly critical of the U.N.-approved no-fly zone and air strikes officially intended to protect civilians in Libya but which critics say are aimed at supporting rebels seeking to overthrow the government.

“We’d rather not see a big split in the international community on Libya at this crucial time,” a Western diplomat told Reuters. “Let’s hope they come around and join the consensus (on expanding the sanctions). The point is to reduce the ability of the Gaddafi regime to attack its own people.”

The 15-nation council has imposed two rounds of asset freezes and travel bans on Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, his family and inner circle, as well as key firms controlled by them, such as the central bank and Libyan National Oil Corp.

The first Libya sanctions resolution was adopted unanimously on Feb. 26. But Russia, China and India were among the five states that abstained during the vote on the second resolution, which passed 10-0 on March 17.

Germany and Brazil also abstained on that resolution, which blacklisted more individuals and firms and authorized the use of “all necessary measures” -- code for military force -- to protect civilians.

Last week the council’s Libya sanctions committee had hoped to expand the sanctions again. The additions, based on proposals from Britain, France, Germany and the United States, were set to be approved on April 7, but Russia, China and India stopped the move by demanding more time to think about them.

The committee has been unable to act since then. Diplomats said it was unclear how long the three countries would take.

GADDAFI‘S WIFE

U.N. sanctions committees are comprised of all Security Council members and work on the basis of consensus. That means every council member has a virtual veto. Russia and China are often reluctant to support punitive steps by the council.

Among the 24 Libyans Britain, France and Germany proposed adding to the asset-freeze list and the 19 who would join those subject to an international travel ban is Gaddafi’s wife Safia Farkash al-Barassi, according to a list seen by Reuters.

The U.S. delegation also asked for time to consider the British, French and German list. A U.S. official told reporters in New York that it merely wanted a chance to vet several names on the list to make sure blacklisting them made sense.

One council diplomat said the U.S. request was not holding up the expansion of the blacklist. He said the sanctions committee could easily hold on to the “two or three” names Washington wanted to vet and move ahead with the rest.

Washington has proposed adding 22 companies to the blacklist -- seven more firms than the British, French and German proposal calls for -- most of them subsidiaries of the Libyan National Oil Corp, already under sanctions.

The emerging powers Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, often referred to as the BRICS -- met in southern China on Thursday for a one-day summit.

The five powers, all of which are currently on the Security Council, expressed misgivings about NATO-led air strikes in Libya and urged an end to the fighting. [ID:nL3E7FE0BA] (Editing by Eric Walsh)

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