Updated at 18:18,16-07-2018

US Delegation: no thaw in relations following visit to Minsk

Zmicier Lukashuk, Euroradio

The US officials on a visit to Minsk sought opportunities for interaction, but asked difficult questions.

Representatives of the US Agency for International Development, the State Department and the Ministry of Defense stayed in Minsk for nearly three days. Using the official register to describe their visit, it can be said that the representatives of the United States Government "considered the possibility of bilateral cooperation in the areas of mutual interest."

Where possible, these were considered at the meetings of the Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Economy and Ministry of Education. Yet Americans remained true to themselves.

"During our meetings, we emphasized our long-held concern about the situation with human rights and democratic standards in Belarus, which are required for the security and prosperity of this country," says Paige Alexander, Deputy Administrator of the Agency for International Development.

US Delegation: no thaw in relations following visit to Minsk

Paige Alexander

The issue of political prisoners was not left without attention of the American delegation either. According to the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Thomas Melia, he personally voiced it in the meeting at the Belarusian Foreign Ministry.

Thomas Melia: Their position (of Belarusian authorities - Euroradio) has remained unchanged for several years, they continue to call these people "so-called political prisoners" and the statement made by the Belarusian side yesterday (during a meeting in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs - Euroradio) reflects the differences that we have in our positions on this issue.

US Delegation: no thaw in relations following visit to Minsk

Thomas Melia

Representatives of the US Government also met with the Belarusian military and "thanked them for their participation in such international agreements as the "Treaty on Open Skies" and "Partnership for Peace". They also "expressed satisfaction with the fact that Belarus did not recognized the annexation of the Crimea and that Minsk agreed to host a meeting to find ways to Ukrainian conflict." However, the delegation to refused to discuss and comment on the Ukrainian conflict itself and its possible dangers to our region. The only thing that Evelyn Farkas, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia meaningfully notes is that the American Embassy in Belarus has had no Defence Attaché since 2008.

US Delegation: no thaw in relations following visit to Minsk

Evelyn N. Farkas

As can be seen, the United States Government representatives had a lot of meetings, but what is the result of the visit? Will there be a warming of relations?

Thomas Melia: Relations between the United States and Belarus have not changed as a result of this visit. Specific decisions have not been taken. We note that the visit has become a restoration of bilateral relations, and we hope that this will continue.

In the near future there will be several events where representatives of the American and the Belarusian authorities will be able to get together: during the next meeting of the UN Assembly in New York, at the OSCE Human Dimension Implementation meeting in Warsaw, and there will be a meeting of OSCE Ministerial Council meeting in Switzerland in February.

Thomas Melia admits that it is the presence of political prisoners in our country " that continues to be an obstacle to deepening and expanding cooperation between the two countries."