EU moves to "soon" ease Ivory Coast sanctions amid Ouattara gains
Apr 8, 2011, 13:36 GMT
Brussels - The European Union hopes to 'soon' ease some of the sanctions it imposed on Ivory Coast, at the request of the country's internationally recognized new leader, a spokesman for the bloc's top foreign policy official, Catherine Ashton, said Friday.
Alassane Ouattara had called a day earlier for the EU to lift sanctions - such as those on ports that are preventing the West African country from exporting its main commodity, cocoa - as he promised to quickly get Ivory Coast back to normal.
Forces loyal to Ouattara have been fighting to oust the previous president, Laurent Gbagbo, who refuses to step down. Gbagbo on Thursday was holed up in a bunker surrounded by Ouattara's men.
Ashton spokesman Michael Mann said that the EU is working on lifting the sanctions 'in close collaboration with' Ouattara and his officials. He declined to say when that may happen.
'We hope to ease the sanctions soon,' he added.
A Brussels diplomat who asked not to be named noted that the situation in Ivory Coast had changed 'substantially' with Ouattara's forces gaining an upper hand.
'The sanctions were put in place to pressure Gbagbo, not to penalize the population,' he noted. 'We'll be pushing hard to move things as quickly as possible.'
Ivory Coast is among the topics that are scheduled to be discussed by EU foreign ministers when they meet in Luxembourg on Tuesday.
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