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Cablegate: Osce/Permanent Council: Reaction to Release Of

VZCZCXRO4632
OO RUEHAST RUEHFL RUEHLA RUEHMRE RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHC #4464 2472032
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O R 032029Z SEP 08
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE IMMEDIATE 3310
INFO ORG FOR SECURITY CO OP IN EUR COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS STATE 094464

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PREL PGOV OSCE KDEM BY
SUBJECT: OSCE/PERMANENT COUNCIL: REACTION TO RELEASE OF
PRISONERS OF CONSCIENCE IN BELARUS

1. Post is authorized to present the following statement at
the Permanent Council meeting in Vienna on September 4.

Begin text:

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

The United States welcomes the August 20 release of the last
two Belarusian prisoners of conscience, Andrey Kim and
Syarhey Parsyukevich. This follows closely the August 16
release of former Presidential candidate Alyaksandr Kazulin.
The release of all prisoners of conscience is a positive
step. This is a development in the right direction by
Belarus to abide by the commitments it undertook as a member
of the OSCE to respect human rights, fundamental freedoms and
democratic norms.

To signal our support for the release, Deputy Assistant
Secretary of State David Merkel traveled to Minsk on August
21 to 23 to develop a dialogue with Belarusian government
officials and deepen our contacts with the democratic
opposition. He had productive meetings with Foreign Minister
Martynov, Presidential Administration Deputy Chief Petkevich,
and Central Election Commission Chairwoman Yermoshina. He
also met with opposition and civil society leaders, including
Mr. Kazulin.

Continued steps by Government of Belarus that show they are
truly committed to democratic reform could lead to a
significant improvement of relations between the United
States and Belarus, including the removal of visa and
economic sanctions. Ensuring a conducive environment for
free and fair parliamentary elections on September 28, both
during the run-up and on election day itself, will be
important in this regard.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

End text.
RICE

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