Completing a three-year tour of duty in Belarus, U.S. ambassador Kenneth Yalowitz told a farewell news conference yesterday that the U.S. has "nothing against the Russia-Belarus union provided it is based on free consent and openness and if it does not aim to create a military bloc." Yalowitz said the main elements of U.S. policy toward Belarus were laid out during consultations for which he was called to Washington after a series of undemocratic steps on the part of the Belarusan authorities. He described U.S. policy as one of active if "selective engagement," focusing on "democratically-minded groups and persons" in Belarusan society or even in official structures. Washington does not seek to isolate Belarus but to "promote in every way its independent, sovereign, and democratic development as part of a prospering Europe." The U.S. will not encourage investment in Belarus until the government introduces economic reforms in agreement with the International Monetary Fund and consistently adheres to the IMF’s recommendations, he said. (Russian agencies, July 8)
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