US Senate reps arrive to assess situation in Belarus

The United States is seeking to take a closer look on the situation in Belarus, Christopher Socha, Staff Director of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee of the US Congress, said during his visit to Minsk.

On February 18, Belarusian officials met with members of the secretariat of the committee, news agency Interfax reports.

“Earlier, the US Congress passed legislative acts [the 2004 Belarus Democracy Act provided for the introduction of sanctions –] regarding the subject of relations with Belarus. One of our goals is to check up on the progress in Belarus with our own eyes, to understand whether we need to update the acts mentioned above,” Christopher Socha said.

In turn, Andrey Savinykh, Chairman of the Standing Commission on International Affairs of the House of Representatives, stressed that Minsk and Washington were actively collaborating in the areas of mutual interest; according to him, a dialogue in the military field was also resumed, as well as cooperation in healthcare, agriculture and professional exchanges.

“Against the backdrop of the progress made, the time is ripe for direct contacts between the parliaments,” state-run news agency BelTA quotes the Belarusian diplomat.

The meeting may contribute to the start of allow discussing possible visits, contacts and joint events between the Belarusian parliament and the U.S. Congress, he added.

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On February 1, US State Secretary Mike Pompeo met with Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka in Minsk. The event is regarded as the highest-level US official’s visit in the last 26 years: as far back as the year of 1994, the then US President Bill Clinton arrived in Minsk.

During the visit, Mike Pompeo stressed that the United States would continue to pay attention to human rights issues in Belarus:

“We have concerns about this issue, and we will continue to promote reforms so that people’s rights are protected,” he said. “We are confident that together we will be able to succeed in our relationship”.

“I hope that we can further develop our relations in the direction of investment so that Belarus has sovereignty and independence. I understand this is what you want,” the top US official said.

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