MINSK, April 23 (RIA Novosti) - Belarusian President
Alexander Lukashenko said Thursday he hoped the new U.S.
administration understood there was no future in using the
"language of sanctions" to talk to Belarus.
"I have repeatedly noted the importance of relations with
the U.S. and hope that the new U.S. administration will realize
the hopelessness of dialogue with us from the position of force
and in the language of sanctions," Lukashenko said in his
annual address to the Belarusian nation and parliament.
"We have always said that we are interested in normalizing
political relations with the U.S. and believe it is mutually
beneficial to fully restore the level of trade-economic
interaction, which prior to the imposition of sanctions neared
$1 billion," he said.
Washington imposed sanctions against Belarus's
state-controlled petrochemical concern Belneftekhim and froze
assets of its U.S. subsidiary in 2007, adding to travel bans
for and the freezing of assets of senior officials including
Lukashenko introduced in 2006 over human rights abuses and a
lack of democracy.
The United States and the European Union, which also froze
officials' assets but has eased the travel bans over recent
improvements in the political climate in Belarus, have accused
Lukashenko of clamping down on dissent, stifling the media and