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EU Expected to Lift Libya Oil Sanctions


A Libyan worker talks with rebels in a vehicle as they patrol an oil refinery controlled by anti-Gadhafi forces on the western outskirts of Zawiya, Libya, Aug. 19, 2011

A Libyan worker talks with rebels in a vehicle as they patrol an oil refinery controlled by anti-Gadhafi forces on the western outskirts of Zawiya, Libya, Aug. 19, 2011

European Union diplomats say sanctions against several Libyan ports, oil companies and more than a dozen other entities could be lifted as soon as Friday.

The EU's 27 members reached a preliminary agreement Wednesday in an effort to help Libya's National Transitional Council resume normal economic activity. Diplomats say they expect a final agreement on Thursday.

France, meanwhile, has asked the sanctions committee of the United Nations Security Council to allow Paris to release more than $2 billion of frozen Libyan assets.

The sanctions committee has already approved similar appeals by Britain and the United States, releasing a total of more than $3 billion in seized Libyan assets to address urgent humanitarian needs.

In Libya, thousands celebrated the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in Tripoli's main square, as the country's provisional authorities pressed for the surrender of forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi in his hometown of Sirte.

A commander of anti-Gadhafi forces said Wednesday one of Mr. Gadhafi's sons had offered to surrender. Abdel Hakim Belhadj, the chief of anti-Gadhafi forces in Tripoli, said Gaddafi's son Saadi had contacted him earlier with the offer to turn himself in if he safety was assured.

But U.S. news network CNN reports that Saadi has denied making the offer, saying he would "rather surrender to a real government than to those people."

Countries participating in the international Contact Group on Libya will meet in Paris Thursday to discuss ways to help Libyans now that the NTC has gained control over most of the country.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is among those who will attend the talks, and officials from Russia and China said Wednesday they also will send envoys.

Italy announced on Wednesday that it plans to reopen its embassy in Tripoli this week.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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