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Britain agrees to free last of Argentine POWs

Britain agreed Monday to free the last 593 Argentine prisoners captured in the Falklands conflict, saying it was satisfied Argentina had ended ''active hostilities.''

The decision means Britain backed down from its original demand for a public and formal Argentine declaration of an end to the hostilities. Instead, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's government settled for a statement, in a diplomatic message from the Argentine government of President Reynaldo Bignone, acknowledging simply that a de facto cessation of hostilities existed.

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In Washington, President Reagan ordered an end to US economic, but not military, sanctions against Argentina.