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European Union moves to suspend sanctions on Belarus

The European Union is likely to lift some sanctions on Belarus, including its travel ban on President A.Lukashenko

Baku. 17 September. REPORT.AZ/ The European Union is likely to lift some sanctions on Belarus, including its travel ban on President Alexander Lukashenko, after he freed a group of political prisoners last month, Report informs referring to Reuters, diplomatic sources say.

An arms embargo against the former Soviet republic would remain. But in an overture to the man the West calls Europe's "last dictator", diplomats are looking at suspending visa bans and asset freezes on most of around 200 people under sanctions for rights abuses, some since disputed elections in 2004.

Four members of Lukashenko's security services, suspected of being behind the disappearances of political opponents, are likely to remain under sanctions.

A formal decision could come next week at a meeting of EU diplomats. It could involve officially extending the sanctions, which expire on Oct. 31, but suspending their application for a year, said sources familiar with the debate within the bloc.

However, some diplomats prefer to wait until after Belarus' elections on Oct. 11, which Lukashenko, in power for 21 years, is expected to win.

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