Deal near in lorry strike

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Hopes were rising last night of an early settlement of the French truckers' dispute. The main federation of haulage employers, which walked out of negotiations last week, made substantial concessions in new talks at the transport ministry in Paris yesterday.

Sources within the negotiations said a settlement was possible by early today. The terms would have to be put to local union branches but the prospect of a lengthy strike now appeared to be receding.

Marc Blondel, secretary general of the Force Ouvriere union federation, said: "I think we are on the road to a solution."

Meanwhile, thousands of trucks all over France remained on the road to nowhere. The number of barricades continued to increase yesterday, approaching 200 by early evening. For the first time, truckers disrupted traffic in Paris.