Minsk And Washington Negotiating Diplomatic Staff Expansion

Minsk and Washington are negotiating a bilateral increase in diplomatic presence, Belarusian Minister of Foreign Affairs Vladimir Makei said on 14 January.

According to the minister, Belarus is interested in the diversification of foreign policy and normal political and economic relations with the United States.

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“We are negotiating our cooperation, based on the understanding that both parties should be represented by ambassadors.

Indeed, we are discussing the entire spectrum of the bilateral agenda, including the possibility of a bilateral increase in diplomatic presence,” the minister said.

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Vladimir Makei stressed that now is high time “to revise certain decisions regarding the quality and state of relations.” At the same time, the official noted that Minsk understands the “important role the United States plays in the world.”

Last week Foreign Policy magazine reported that Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei informed Washington about the lifting of restrictions on the number of American diplomats in Minsk.

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“It’s a big step. This is the beginning of a thaw,” said the unnamed U.S. official. The Foreign Ministry of Belarus confirmed the calls to the leadership of the US State Department but didn’t disclose the details.

Since 2008, the US Embassy in Minsk has been functioning with the limited number of officials (five, and later 10). The functions of the ambassador were performed by the Charge d’Affaires. This was after the US imposed additional sanctions on the country.

Recall that last year the American Embassy announced an expansion of visa services that included issuing tourist visas to Belarusians.