LONDON — A British plane flew $212 million worth of Libyan banknotes to Libya on Wednesday after an assets freeze aimed at the then leader Moamer Kadhafi's regime was lifted, a British official said.
The notes, amounting to 280 million Libyan dinar, should be available to replenish cash machines and distributed to banks within hours of arriving in the country on a Royal Air Force plane, the official said.
The cash, which was printed in Britain, is the first part of 1.86 billion Libyan dinar which will be released to Libya.
The official said the cash delivery would be handed to Libya's Central Bank and should enable many public sector workers to be paid over the Eid holiday to mark the end of the Ramadan fasting month.
The UN Security Council decided on Tuesday to allow Britain to release the money.
Foreign Secretary William Hague said following the Security Council decision that the release "represents another major step forward in getting necessary assistance to the Libyan people, building on the remarkable progress in recent days.
"These banknotes, which were frozen in the UK under UN sanctions, will help address urgent humanitarian needs, instill confidence in the banking sector, pay salaries of key public sector workers and free up liquidity in the economy."
Kadhafi's regime had ordered the cash from British printing firm De La Rue but Britain blocked its shipment in March as part of international moves to put pressure on the Libyan leader over his crackdown on protests.
The release of the cash comes the day before an international conference on Libya is held in Paris.
Senior officials from around 60 countries will meet in the French capital on Thursday as the "friends of Libya" to secure financial and diplomatic support for the fledgling revolutionary regime.