|The UK said it had delivered $227m to NTC officials in a bid to alleviate Libya's cash-flow problems [Reuters]
Britain's Royal Air Force has flown in crates of freshly printed bank notes worth $227m to Libya to pay public workers and ease the country's cash flow problems.
The notes, amounting to 280m Libyan dinar, should be available to be distributed to banks within hours of arriving on Wednesday, a UK official said.
The Libyan currency is part of a consignment of new notes worth about $1.5bn ordered from British printing company De La Rue by Muammar Gaddafi, the toppled Libyan leader.
The shipment was blocked by Britain in March in one of the first moves to pressure the Libyan leader into easing a crackdown on protests.
Britain said it was releasing the cash to ease the country's cash flow problems after National Transitional Council (NTC) forces seized control of Tripoli, the capital.
The remainder of the money will be delivered "shortly", British Foreign Minister William Hague said in a statement.
"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," Hague said.
Libyan one dinar and 50 dinar notes feature a portrait of Gaddafi, but it could not be immediately confirmed if the shipment included this design.
The United Nations Sanctions Committee agreed on Tuesday to release the notes following a request from Britain after the NTC took control of much of the country and Gaddafi went into hiding.
On Thursday, France received approval to release $2.16bn of Libyan assets.
"We have to help the National Transitional Council because the country is devastated, the humanitarian situation is difficult and there's a lack of water, electricity and fuel," said French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe.
A shortage of hard cash has been a problem throughout the conflict, with long lines often forming outside banks as people sought to take out their money.
The NTC frequently complained of a lack of liquidity in areas under its control.