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US slaps sanctions on Libya

Washington/Berlin: Piling up pressure on the Gaddafi regime, the US has slapped unilateral sanctions on Libya freezing assets of the strongman, his kin and loyalists, as the UNSC and EU actively mulled tough measures against Tripoli in the wake of its brutal crackdown on anti-government protesters.

In his most aggressive action against Libya since the unprecedented revolt against Muammar Gaddafi`s 41-year rule began nearly two weeks ago, US President Barack Obama issued an executive order last night announcing unilateral sanctions on the country.

"By any measure, Muammar el-Gaddafi`s government has violated international norms and common decency and must be held accountable," Obama said in a statement after he issued the executive order.

"These sanctions therefore target the Gaddafi government, while protecting the assets that belong to the people of Libya," he said.

The executive order blocks the property and interests in property of a number of individuals, including the family members of Gaddafi, officials of the Libyan government and those responsible for human rights violations in that country.

Obama`s move came hours after the White House announced that the US had suspended military ties with Libya and closed down its embassy in Tripoli.

The Libyan government`s continued violation of human rights, brutalisation of its people and outrageous threats have rightly drawn the strong and broad condemnation of the international community, Obama said.

In New York, India and 14 other members of the UN Security Council agreed to hold yet another meeting of the powerful body soon to consider sanctions against the Gaddafi regime in Libya to end the bloody crackdown by forces loyal to him against anti-government protesters.

The Council would consider a draft resolution, "including specific targeted measures aimed at putting an end to violence, helping achieve a peaceful solution to the current crisis, ensuring accountability and respecting the will of the Libyan people," the UNSC President for this month, Brazilian Ambassador Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, said.

The Council`s decision to hold another meeting on Libya came after UN chief Ban Ki-moon asked it to take "concrete action" against Gaddafi`s regime in Libya to stop his forces` crackdown against anti-government protesters.

The loss of time means more loss of lives, Ban warned, insisting that any delay would add to the death toll which has already crossed 1,000.

The 27-nation European Union, meanwhile, reached consensus on imposing tough sanctions on Libya and is expected to strike an agreement in this regard next week.

A formal agreement on imposing a set of tough sanctions will be hammered out next week, German Foreign Ministry officials in Berlin and EU diplomats in Brussels said yesterday.

Until now, an agreement on EU sanctions against Libya had been blocked by south European member-nations, which feared an exodus of refugees from north Africa if Libya opened its borders in retaliation.

"I am optimistic that the EU will take restrictive measures" against Libya, the EU`s foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton said in Brussels.

The proposed sanctions may include freezing of all assets of Gaddafi and his associates, an embargo on arms exports to that country, a ban on travel to Europe by Gaddafi and his family and an export ban on goods which could be used for repression against the opponents of his regime.

In Geneva, the UN Human Rights Council unanimously passed a resolution recommending suspension of Libya from the body and decided to conduct an independent probe into violations by the Gaddafi regime.

The 47-nation body`s recommendation to suspend Libya needs to be approved by a two-thirds majority at the 192-member United Nations General Assembly here.

The Swiss government has already frozen all assets of Gaddafi and his associates to prevent misappropriation while the autocratic regime is still in office in Libya.

A government order issued on Thursday blocked the assets of Gaddafi and 28 other members of his clan, including his wife Safia al-Barrasi, his sons and only daughter Aisha as well as several relatives and leaders.

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