Italy to unfreeze $505 million in Libyan assets

August 25, 2011 5:25:31 AM PDT
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi says Italy is preparing to release euro350 million ($505 million) in Libyan assets frozen in Italian banks.

Berlusconi described the planned release as a first tranche. Italy has not disclosed the total Libyan assets held in Italy, Libya's former colonial ruler and biggest trading partner.

Berlusconi made the announcement following a meeting Thursday with the leader of Libya's rebel Cabinet on the second stop of a European diplomatic tour aimed at securing the release of billions of dollars in frozen Libyan assets.

The Libyan opposition says they urgently need at least $5 billion in frozen assets to pay state salaries, maintain vital services and repair critical oil facilities.