Wednesday, April 30, 2008


The president of Belarus has shown defiance in the face of US pressure.
Belarus has ordered a number of US diplomats to leave the country.
The ex-Soviet republic's latest move comes amid a row over human rights violations and follows the expulsion of the US ambassador in March.
The foreign ministry summoned the most senior US diplomat, presenting him with a list of officials "declared personae non gratae and required to leave".
Jonathan Moore said he had been given a list of 10 US diplomats who had been ordered to leave within 72 hours.
"We will do everything possible so that the US diplomats leave the country within the required time limit," Mr Moore said.
The US embassy says it now has 15 diplomats in Minsk.

The diplomatic expulsions were initially ordered after Washington imposed sanctions on the country's state-controlled oil-processing and chemicals company, Belneftekhim.
The firm accounts for about a third of the country's foreign currency earnings.
Belarus said its embassy staff in Washington had been cut to six, but that the US had not cut staff enough.
The US - along with the European Union - has also restricted the travel of authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko and members of his inner circle.
In his annual address to the nation on Tuesday, Mr Lukashenko expressed defiance over pressure from the US and EU to free political prisoners in order to improve ties.
"If the Americans introduce new sanctions and think we will collapse, that's rubbish," he said, adding that no political prisoners would be released.



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