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US asks Turkey to halt Bank Mellat's operations, freeze Gaddafi's assets

US asks Turkey to halt Bank Mellat's operations, freeze Gaddafi's assets

The United States has asked Ankara to halt the operations of Iranian Bank Mellat in Turkey and to freeze the assets of Libya’s leadership so as to support international efforts to impose financial pressure on the regimes. “The most significant existing relationship between Iran and the Turkish financial system is through the Bank Mellat branches in Turkey,” David Cohen, acting undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, told the Hurriyet Daily News & Economic Review on Tuesday. Bank Mellat has three branches in the country located in Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir. Cohen held meetings in Ankara with government officials on Tuesday and convened with banking officials in Istanbul on Wednesday. Turkey’s growing trade and economic ties with Iran have resulted in closer financial relations between the two countries – a development that concerns the international community. UN Security Council Resolution 1929 identified Bank Mellat as a facilitator in hundreds of millions of dollars in proliferation transactions over a period of seven years, he said. Another important subject raised by Cohen was the assets of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and his family, as well as the Libyan Central Bank’s funds in Turkey; the U.N. Security Council resolutions 1970 and 1973 call for all such assets to be frozen. “The [Turkish] government has assured us of full compliance with the Security Council resolutions against Libya.” The Turkish government, meanwhile, does not share many of the criticisms raised by the American government. “We have never said that we won’t abide by the U.N. resolutions. We implement them. In the case of Iran, we recently stopped an Iranian plane,” a senior Foreign Ministry official said. “On Libya,” the official added, “there is great unfairness against Turkey. They should better answer how the Libyan leadership could transfer billions of dollars and pounds to the United States or to the United Kingdom during the strict embargo imposed on Libya.”

Dunya.com

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