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EU moves toward lifting Libya sanctions

By the CNN Wire Staff
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EU considers lifting sanctions on Libya
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Italy and Spain release hundreds of millions of euros in blocked Libyan assets
  • Restrictions on ports, the oil and gas industry and financial institutions could be removed this week
  • World leaders meet in Paris this week to hammer out a way ahead on Libya after Gadhafi
  • They'll discuss elections, freeing assets and how to restore basic services

(CNN) -- The European Union is considering lifting some of its sanctions on Libya, a spokeswoman for the group of nations told CNN Wednesday, a day ahead of a top-level diplomatic summit on post-Gadhafi Libya.

Sanctions will remain in place on Moammar Gadhafi and other individuals, the EU said, but restrictions on ports, oil and gas companies and financial institutions may be removed by the end of the week.

And Italy and Spain announced Wednesday they were lifting blocks on Libyan assets frozen to put pressure on the Gadhafi regime.

Italy is releasing 500 million euros ($720 million) "to give further support to our Libyan friends," Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said.

He also said the Italian embassy in Tripoli, Libya's capital, will reopen September 1, and that diplomats, administrative officials and experts will begin arriving soon. Frattini said he would propose the appointment of the new Italian ambassador to Libya at Thursday's council of ministers meeting.

Spain is releasing 16 million euros ($23 million) and may unfreeze more, Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero announced.

And Germany recognized the rebel envoy to Berlin as Libya's official ambassdor, asking Gadhafi's representative to leave.

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Jamal El-Barag has until September 15 to leave, the German Foreign Office said after accrediting Aly Masednah El-Kothany as the new Libyan representative to the country.

Separately, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, British Prime Minister David Cameron and NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen are among those meeting in Paris Thursday to hammer out a way forward on Libya.

Debates are set to include the freeing of Libyan assets and what a United Nations mission to Libya would entail, U.S. and Western diplomats said Wednesday.

A timetable for elections is also on the agenda, they said.

Sixty delegations are slated to attend the Friends of Libya conference, which aims to formally welcome the north African nation back into the international community after the toppling of Gadhafi by rebels with NATO support.

The new authorities, the National Transition Council, would have to formally request U.N. assistance on matters such as election support and institution-building, and the Security Council would have to approve the mission.

The diplomats will also discuss helping Libya restore basic services and get the oil industry running again.

The EU sent an assistance team to Libya Monday as Tripoli faced food and water shortages.

CNN's David Wilkinson, Elise Labott, Al Goodman and Stephanie Halasz and Journalist Livia Borghese contributed to this report.

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