Meeting with U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale

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Belarus will do everything to develop bilateral relations with the United States, Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko said as he met with United States Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale in Minsk on 17 September.

“It is a pleasure to see you here, not only in Belarus, but also in Eastern Europe. I am pleased to mention the following: it shows that the USA has finally paid attention not only to Europe in general but also to Belarus,” the head of state said. “In this difficult time your interest in this region is reassuring.”

“Perhaps, we are in thrall to certain mass media insinuations. But it seems to us in Belarus that Europe and the planet in general are facing difficult times,” the head of state believes.

He remarked that they often blamed the USA for it. “However, from what we understand, it never happens in real life that one is always at fault and the rest are pure angels. Probably, all of us are responsible for what is going on in the world,” the President said.

“I am convinced that your visit will give an opportunity at least to the Belarusian government and Belarusian people to take a more objective look at the world on the assumption of the information that I hope to get from a very informed person,” the head of state said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko said: “Reassuring, good information relating to intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles has become available recently. We are concerned about it because Belarus is party to the [Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces] Treaty. Today the treaty is virtually destroyed but statements have been made that neither NATO nor Russia are going to deploy these missiles in Europe.”

“In turn, I said the other day that we are never going to initiate efforts to dismantle this treaty. Moreover, we are never going to deploy such missiles in Belarus in order to make the situation more complicated (if it does not threaten our security). But these two statements – from the West and the East – make me believe that Belarus will not have to resort to these last-ditch measures. We have neither willingness nor spare money for it,” the Belarusian leader stated.

Aleksandr Lukashenko went on saying that the last war cost Belarus one third of the population. The country fought against the aggressor together with the USA. “We don’t want things to go up in flames in Belarus once again,” he said.

“As for problems of Europe, especially Eastern Europe, Ukraine in particular, I firmly believe that at present this conflict cannot be resolved without the U.S. involvement,” the Belarusian leader said.

He added that this is one of the basic principles of diplomacy: if negotiators cannot solve the problem, they should invite new parties to the table. “There should be new ideas,” the Belarusian President noted.

“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 about 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,” the President noted.

“We will do everything to develop our relations," the Belarusian leader stressed.

David Hale, in turn, said: “I would like to convey greetings from the secretary of state who’s asked me to come here in order to be present at an important historical moment of our bilateral relations. After our meeting we will make a statement that we are going to exchange ambassadors after so many years without them.”

The diplomat went on saying: “We agree with you that the state of affairs is unnatural, abnormal. We are glad that this chapter is nearly over. We are closing this chapter due to the steps your country and you personally have made. We would also like to note the vision you’ve accepted – greater diversity in internal affairs and in relations with the outside world. We strongly support this vision and will do our best to help you on the way.”

He noted that the USA is doing it not for the sake of competing with some other country but for the sake of fully realizing the potential of bilateral relations.

“And also because we highly value this region and we are very attentive to security threats. And also because we strongly support Belarus’ sovereignty and independence.”

At the end of the meeting Aleksandr Lukashenko presented an exclusive assortment of chocolate and the photo album Heritage of Belarus to David Hale.