Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko met with U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo in Minsk on 1 February.
“Welcome to Minsk. I am sincerely glad to see you here. At least, there are two reasons for it. First of all, you are one of the architects of the U.S. modern politics. Secondly, after all kinds of misunderstandings in the relations between Belarus and the United States, absolutely groundless misunderstandings shown by the previous authority, it is very good that you have decided to come to Minsk and see the country, its people, what kind of dictatorship is here, what kind of democracy we have,” the President said.
“Of course, one day will not be enough for you to look through all these matters. However, you will surely learn something about Belarus,” the Belarusian leader said.
He stressed that Belarus is an absolutely peaceful country with peace-loving people: “It is in our set of mind and the history the Belarusian nation has. It is especially true about our joint fight against the Nazis. Every third Belarusian was killed in that war. That speaks for itself. The whole country was covered with death camps and Jewish ghettos.”
The President said that ahead of Michael Pompeo's visit to Minsk, a lot had been written about the Belarusian-American relations. “Enemies joked and mocked. They wrote a lot about you, about me. The topic was very sharp. I think it was the same in the West, too,” said Aleksandr Lukashenko.
According to him, everything was about that meeting being held for the first time, and the Belarusian authorities, including the head of state, being unfamiliar with the current U.S. secretary of state. “I would disappoint them, and remind you by saying that we have known each other for a long time. Although we have not met before unfortunately. When you served at your previous post [of the director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency], I absolutely do not hide it, we have held a number of operations together with the U.S. special services,” said the head of state.
The President explained that those activities were related to the fight against terrorism and trafficking in persons. “We conducted several very serious operations to counter the proliferation of nuclear elements. I remember several cases when we together detained criminals, who were moving nuclear materials across the border of Belarus to the West,” the Belarusian leader said.
“We have at least a small but joint history of working for the sake of peace and the fight against the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Today you, as the U.S. Secretary of State, and your leader, Donald Trump, pay great attention to this topic. As you can see, we have something in common, something which is very important for people,” the President concluded.
“I am ready to discuss all issues on the agenda of our relations. And I am ready to answer all questions which might exist in the U.S. establishment in a sincere and open way,” the head of state said.
“But you should know that you’ve come to a normal country where normal people live. This country and people are committed to stability and peace. At least in this region. I think we will also discuss it. I am happy to welcome you in Belarus and to meet with you,” Aleksandr Lukashenko added.
Michael Pompeo, in turn, hailed constructive cooperation between Belarus and the United States in various areas, particularly in countering terrorism. He said that the United States highly appreciates the role of Belarus in this matter. I hope that we can further develop our relations in this area, he added.
The United States will continue to attach attention to human rights, the U.S. secretary of state said. “We will continue to push for human rights reforms. We are confident that together we will achieve progress in our relations,” he said.
The USA will soon appoint an ambassador. The ambassador will be here, and you will see that we are working to ensure your economic development, that U.S. businesses come here, and that people contribute to their community and job creation. We are ready to support you in this direction, Michael Pompeo said.