Bolton in Minsk for rare talks with Belarus strongman

Minsk, Aug 29 (AFP/APP):White House national security advisor John Bolton was to meet President Alexander Lukashenko in Minsk on Thursday for rare US talks with Belarus’s strongman ruler.

The US embassy in Minsk said Bolton would meet with Lukashenko and Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei “to discuss regional security and emphasise US support for Belarus’s sovereignty and independence”.

The visit is sure to ruffle feathers in Moscow, which sees ex-Soviet neighbour Belarus as a crucial partner.

It comes after Bolton met Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kiev on Thursday and stressed Ukraine’s “territorial integrity” in the face of its conflict with Moscow-backed separatists in the country’s east.

Often dubbed “Europe’s last dictatorship”, Belarus has been largely isolated by the international community, though Russia remains a close ally.

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