World U.S. holding back on Belarus sanctions, hopes for joint move with EU: sources

04:40  01 october  2020
04:40  01 october  2020 Source:   reuters.com

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The European Union is set to impose new sanctions targeting Belarusian officials responsible for the brutal crackdown in the ex-Soviet state, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told reporters after video talks held by EU foreign ministers. The targets and scope of the measures are yet to be determined

Cypriot government refuses to back measures unless bloc imposes sanctions on Turkey.

By Arshad Mohammed, Jonathan Landay and Matt Spetalnick

a man walking down a city street: Belarusian opposition supporters protest against presidential election results in Minsk © Reuters/TUT.BY Belarusian opposition supporters protest against presidential election results in Minsk

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States has held off on joining Britain and Canada in imposing sanctions on Belarus in hopes the European Union can overcome an internal dispute, paving the way to coordinated U.S. and EU sanctions, four sources said on Wednesday.

The EU vowed in August to impose sanctions on Belarus for alleged fraud in its Aug. 9 election and for human rights abuses since, but Cyprus, one of its smallest members, has prevented that.

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The European Union is refusing to recognize election results in Belarus and is preparing sanctions over the 'rigged' vote and the heavy-handed police The EU "doesn't accept election results" in Minsk, Borrell tweeted on Friday evening, adding that work has begun on " sanctioning those responsible for

Joint Statement on the EU – U . S . Financial Regulatory Forum. Sanctions Brochures are an overview of OFAC' s regulations with regard to the Belarus sanctions . Certain activities related to the Belarus sanctions may be allowed if they are licensed by OFAC.

Cyprus has maintained it will not agree to the Belarusian sanctions unless the EU also puts sanctions on Turkey because of a separate dispute over Turkish drilling for oil and gas in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Six sources told Reuters last week that Britain, Canada and the United States planned to impose sanctions on individual Belarusians in a coordinated move. Only London and Ottawa followed suit on Tuesday.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, three sources said on Wednesday that Washington refrained because it believed the EU might achieve consensus at this week's European Council meeting.

One source familiar with the matter told Reuters that a U.S. package, including human rights sanctions, was essentially ready, but the timing of any announcement was uncertain.

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The EU and US will suspend most sanctions against Belarus including an asset freeze and travel ban against President Alexander Lukashenko. image captionPresident Lukashenko is being rewarded by the EU and the US for freeing political opponents following his resounding election victory earlier this

EU to impose Belarus sanctions “shortly”. The EU Council has issued conclusions relating to Belarus , which confirm that it “will shortly impose sanctions against a substantial number of individuals responsible for violence, repression and the falsification of election results”.

The sanctions aim to impose consequences for the disputed election, which the opposition says was stolen, and for the treatment of protesters in Belarus, where President Alexander Lukashenko has ruled for 26 years.

More than 12,000 people have been arrested since Lukashenko, who denies electoral fraud, was named the election's landslide winner. Major opposition figures are either in jail or in exile.

A Cyprus source said there was a "political agreement" on Turkish sanctions at an informal EU foreign ministers' meeting in Berlin in August and Cyprus remained ready to implement it, although it was not clear precisely what the source meant.

"It's not a question of softening or hardening of (Cyprus') position, the source said.

After the meeting, Germany's Foreign Ministry said ministers agreed on their "solidarity with Greece and Cyprus" but stressed that constructive dialogue with Turkey was vital to resolve "contentious issues in the eastern Mediterranean."

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The European Union and United States said on Thursday they would temporarily ease some sanctions on Belarus after its release of political REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko. The European Union said it will suspend its sanctions on Belarus for four months from Saturday, including those

“The European Union stands in solidarity with the people of Belarus ,” said Charles Michel, the Russia has largely held back from providing direct aid to Lukashenko, in public at least. EU fails to agree on Belarus sanctions after Cyprus blocks plan. Cypriot government refuses to back measures

The U.S. State Department did not directly address why it had not joined Britain and Canada in imposing sanctions, but said it welcomed their having done so and noted U.S. sanctions already applied to 16 Belarusians, including Lukashenko.

"We are coordinating closely with our European partners to promote accountability for those involved in human rights abuses and repression in Belarus," said a State Department spokesman on condition he not be identified.

He said Washington backed an independent look at "Belarus' fraudulent election, the human rights abuses surrounding the election and the ongoing violence by Belarusian authorities" and repeated U.S. calls for the authorities to cease violence against peaceful protesters and to engage with the opposition.

The embassy of Cyprus in Washington and the White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

(Reporting by Arshad Mohammed, Jonathan Landay and Matt Spetalnick in Washington; Additional reporting by Michele Kambas in Nicosia; Editing by David Gregorio and Peter Cooney)

Secret Lukashenko inauguration triggers fresh Belarus clashes .
Belarus police fired tear gas and arrested more than 150 protesters on Wednesday after the secret inauguration of President Alexander Lukashenko triggered new demonstrations and fresh condemnation in the West. Several thousand protesters, many carrying the red-and white opposition flag, took to the streets of the capital Minsk and other cities following a surprise announcement that Lukashenko had been sworn into a sixth term in office following disputed elections in August.

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