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Cablegate: Belarus Tells Uk It's Looking for Rewards For

VZCZCXRO5942
OO RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHLO #2170 2341631
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 211631Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY LONDON
TO RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L LONDON 002170

NOFORN
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EUR/WE, EUR/UMB;

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/21/2018
TAGS: PREL PHUM BO UK
SUBJECT: BELARUS TELLS UK IT'S LOOKING FOR REWARDS FOR
PRISONER RELEASE

Classified By: Political Counselor Rick Mills for reasons 1.4 (b) and ( d).

1. (C/NF) The Belarus government perceives that its release of political prisoners Syarhey Parsyukevich, Andrey Kim, and Alyaksander Kazulin - long sought by the EU and U.S. - warrants a significant signal from the west indicating an "improved climate." The Belarusian DCM Zoya Kolontai told the Head of the FCO's Eastern Europe and Neighbourhood Team (EUR/UMB equivalent) David Bendor that the prisoners' release indicates Belarus is ready to "comply with international law" and was ready to be an "active partner" with the EU. Bendor expressed HMG appreciation for the release, but cautioned Kolontai that his government and the EU in general would need to see a sustained policy of constructive engagement before significant shifts in policy would be made.

2. (C/NF) Kolontai had a specific favor in mind. The Belarusian government is sponsoring an investment forum in London on November 18 and 19, which it would like its Prime Minister to attend and address. Kolontai requested FCO assistance in obtaining a visa for the PM, as well as help with logistics and security. Bendor said HMG would take the request under consideration, and made clear to Kolantai that his government's behavior, particularly how it conducts, and treats the OSCE observers to, the September 28 elections, would factor into the reply.

3. (C) Bendor told us that the UK's likely next signal to Belarus would be through the EU Presidency conclusions from the September 16 GAERC, which would likely acknowledge the prisoner release and look forward to free and fair elections. The October GAERC could then comment on the elections, and consider other steps, if it is clear that Belarus is making a true attempt at democratization and seeks partnership with the west. Bendor made it clear, however, that HMG does not want to take any steps without first consulting and coordinating with the U.S. He was therefore looking forward to learning the results of EUR DAS Merkel's August 21 visit to Minsk. Visit London's Classified Website: XXXXXXXXXXXX
LEBARON

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