Diplomats at the United Nations say they expect the Security Council to vote unanimously later on Wednesday to lift the sanctions against Eritrea.

It comes amid a thawing of relations in the region and a landmark peace deal with neighbouring Ethiopia.

The sanctions were imposed nine years ago over the country’s alleged support of al-Shabab Islamist miltants in Somalia.

A draft resolution proposed by the UK recognises that UN monitors have failed to substantiate the allegations.

Adoption of the resolution would immediately lift the arms embargo, targeted asset freeze and travel ban imposed on Eritrea.

The BBC’s Emmanuel Igunza says Eritrea sits on a strategic point on the Red Sea that connects Europe, Africa and the East, but its economy has been badly affected by years of sanctions.

The Eritrean government says it wants compensation for the punitive measures which it calls unjustified and politically motivated, he says.

But critics say the country has done little to address human rights abuses from within and, in particular, the indefinite national service conscription that has led to tens of thousands of young Eritreans fleeing the country towards Europe.

Ethiopia’s ambassador to the UN, Taye Atske Selassie, said the end of sanctions would “definitely open up a lot of possibilities for Eritrea,” drawing foreign investors and bringing Asmara back into the international fold, the AFP news agency reports.