Pompeo says US monitoring Belarus closely, urges Lukashenko to engage civil society

WION Web Team Poland, Warsaw Aug 15, 2020, 10.33 PM(IST)

Pompeo on day two of central European trip Photograph:( Reuters )

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Speaking in Warsaw, his last stop on a tour of central Europe, Pompeo said Washington was tracking the situation in Belarus and the aim of the contacts with the EU was to 'to support the Belarusian people to achieve their own sovereignty, their own freedom'.

The United States is discussing the situation in Belarus with the European Union after last weekend's disputed election and subsequent crackdown on protesters, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Saturday.

Speaking in Warsaw, his last stop on a tour of central Europe, Pompeo said Washington was tracking the situation in Belarus and the aim of the contacts with the EU was to "to support the Belarusian people to achieve their own sovereignty, their own freedom".

Also read: Belarus leader Lukashenko talks to Russian President Putin, discusses protests

The US and Poland appealed for Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko to engage with civil society, as the strongman leader faces the biggest challenge to his rule since taking power in 1994.

Security forces have clashed with protesters in Minsk and other cities in recent days after President Alexander Lukashenko claimed a landslide re-election victory in a vote on Sunday that his opponents say was rigged.

Also read: Pompeo signs deal for US troops move from Germany to Poland

The EU on Friday took the first step towards imposing new sanctions on Belarus, instructing its foreign policy arm to prepare a blacklist of responsible individuals.

Pompeo also commented on the failure to extend a U.N. arms embargo on Iran, calling it a ''serious mistake''.

The United States failed on Friday in its bid to extend a U.N. arms embargo on Iran after the move was opposed by Russia and China, while France, Britain, Germany and eight other members abstained.

The U.N. arms embargo on Iran is due to expire under a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, which provided for many international sanctions against Iran being lifted in exchange for curbs on Iran's nuclear programme. Washington withdrew from the deal in 2018.

The United States could now follow through on a threat to trigger a return of all U.N. sanctions on Iran using a provision in the nuclear deal, known as snapback. Diplomats have said the United States could do this as early as next week, but that it would face a tough, messy battle.