After 11 years: US and Belarus to exchange envoys again

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The United States and Belarus are set to restore diplomatic missions to the ambassadorial level, US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale said during the meeting with President Alyaksandr Lukashenka on Tuesday.

“We are closing this chapter due to the steps your country and you personally have made. We would also like to note the vision you have accepted – greater diversity in internal affairs and in relations with the outside world. We strongly support this vision and will do our best to help you on the way,” state-run news agency BelTA quotes David Hale.

In turn, Alyaksandr Lukashenka promised that Belarus would do everything to develop bilateral relations with the USA. According to him, it is not normal when the two states that ‘once fought on the same side against the enemy’ [Nazis] have such cold relations.

Following the meeting with the Belarusian leader, the top US official reiterated that they were not asking Belarus to choose between East and West.

“There are still aspects of the Belarus Democracy Act with which the Belarusian government needs to contend, and the upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections represent an opportunity to address the spirit of the concerns outlined in the Belarus Democracy Act. With such progress, we can discuss further easing of sanctions.” he stressed.

For over a decade, the embassies of the two countries have been headed by сharges d’affaires. After the United States imposed sanctions on Belarus, Alyaksandr Lukashenka accused the US embassy of carrying out subversive activities. In 2008, Minsk recalled the ambassador from Washington and limited the number of American diplomats in the Belarusian capital to five. Before that there were 32 of them. For years, the American Embassy in Minsk has been operating in a reduced mode, without an ambassador. First, a limit was set to five diplomats, but gradually it was expanded to ten. In January 2019, Belarus lifted a cap on the number of US diplomats allowed in the country.

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