- Title: POLAND: EU foreign ministers meet to discuss Libya and Belarus
- Date: 3rd September 2011
- Summary: MAN PLAYING ACCORDION
- Embargoed: 18th September 2011 13:00
- Location: Poland, Poland
- Country: Poland
- Topics: International Relations,European Union,Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA2MI5SO2MV51X10Z6RI5RKN3V9
- Aspect Ratio:
- Story Text: The Polish coastal resort of Sopot prepared to host an informal meeting of European Union (EU) Foreign Ministers on Friday (September 2).
The Middle East peace process will likely dominate their agenda, with post-Gaddafi Libya set to be discussed on the first day.
The meeting comes a day after the EU ended its sanctions on six Libyan ports, several oil firms and banks.
EU's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said on Thursday (September 1) the goal was to provide resources and help the Libyan economy function again.
Aspiring European Union member states will be take part in the second part of the meeting on Saturday (September 3), dedicated to the block's Eastern Partnership program, while the meeting will also look at further strengthening of the EU's external relations with strategic partners, according to a Polish government press release.
On the eve of the meeting it emerged that Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko will free all political activists from jail by early October as part of a drive to mend ties with the European Union, according to a document obtained by Reuters.
Lukashenko appeared to make his first gesture on the prisoners earlier, saying he was pardoning four people jailed for their involvement in protests in December against his rule.
Lukashenko, in power since 1994, is battling an economic crisis and EU and U.S. sanctions imposed after his crackdown on the protesters following a disputed presidential election. .
Belarussian authorities detained hundreds of people after a huge rally in Minsk protesting Lukashenko's re-election, which they believe was rigged.
The letter obtained by Reuters also said Lukashenko would call for talks with the opposition on the country's future and would urge the EU to send a team of 'wise men' to Minsk to monitor and facilitate such talks.
The EU extended economic sanctions in June to companies linked to Lukashenko and added more officials to a list of more than 150 already facing visa bans.
The EU foreign ministers' summit meeting will be chaired by Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski and High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton.
Poland holds the EU's six month rotating presidency.
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