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US, Belarus mend ties, agree to bring back ambassadors

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David Hale / @USEmbBy/Twitter

A top U.S. diplomat says Washington and Belarus have agreed to return ambassadors to each other's countries, mending an 11-year break.

U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale made the announcement on Tuesday during his visit to the Belarusian capital Minsk. 

David Hale said after meeting with Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko: “Today is a historic moment in American-Belarusian relations. I am glad to participate in the declaration of our readiness to exchange ambassadors as the next step in normalizing our relations.”

According to David Hale, he and Aleksandr Lukashenko had a good and profound talk not only about bilateral relations but about the entire spectrum of matters on the common international agenda.

David Hale also stressed he was pleased to be in Minsk in order to indicate a mutual effort to advance bilateral relations in a new direction. “The USA remains committed to supporting the sovereignty and independence of Belarus where next generations will have a successful future,” BELTA quotes the diplomat as saying.

The top US diplomat also stressed that by normalizing relations, the United States is not asking Belarus to choose between East and West.

Belarus President Lukashenka today said as he met  David Hale: “We will do everything to develop our relations. As for our relations, you know, and you have been notified, that this is not the only signal we are sending to the U.S. leadership that we are normalizing the relations. It is not normal when the two states that once fought on the same side against the enemy have such, let's say, weak relations today.” 

In 2008, Belarus ordered the staff of the U.S. Embassy to be sharply reduced, in response to sanctions imposed by Washington. Since then, both countries' embassies had been led by charges d'affaires.

But President Alexander Lukashenko has pursued better relations with the West since Russia's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.