Brussels - The European Union is planning to relax sanctions against Zimbabwe - but restrictions will stay on President Robert Mugabe, diplomats said on Friday.
On Monday, EU foreign ministers are expected to lift a ten-year ban on the provision of development aid to the Zimbabwean government, sources said.
Assistance to the country is currently being delivered only through non-governmental channels.
The decision would not have any immediate financial effect, but would allow Zimbabwe to be included in the EU's development plans for 2014-20, the bloc's next budget programming period that is currently being negotiated.
Ministers were also due to signal their readiness to back “a significant” slimming down of asset freeze and travel ban lists later this year -provided that a foreseen referendum on a new Zimbabwean constitution is concluded successfully, sources in Brussels said.
The EU started to ease sanctions last year, in recognition of the country's progress towards democracy. In February, travel bans and asset freezes were lifted for 51 officials and 20 companies, and two pro-Mugabe ministers were allowed to travel to Brussels for talks.
Restrictive measures remain in place against 112 officials and 11 companies. EU diplomats insisted that no lifting of sanctions was foreseen for Mugabe and his inner circle. - Sapa-dpa