Statement by the Head of the U.S. Government Interagency Delegation on the Conclusion of Their official visit to Belarus

Members of the U.S. Delegation

A United States Government Inter-Agency delegation from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and Departments of State and Defense completed a two and a half day official visit to Minsk.  The delegation includes Paige Alexander, Assistant Administrator of USAID; Thomas Melia, Deputy Assistant Secretary from Department of State; and Evelyn Farkas, Deputy Assistant Secretary from Department of Defense.  We explored opportunities for broadening bilateral cooperation with Belarus in areas of mutual interest. We met with Belarusian officials from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Defense, Economy and Education.  We also met with members of civil society, business community partners and entrepreneurs, representatives of the independent media, human rights and religious freedom activists, the Diplomatic Corps, leaders of the political opposition, and relatives of political prisoners.  In our meetings, we emphasized long-standing U.S. concerns regarding respect for human rights and democratic norms, which are essential for a secure, safe, and prosperous Belarus.  The United States hopes for on-going engagement with Belarus to expand bilateral dialogue.  At the same time, we continue to address the priority issues of enhancing democratic standards and supporting civil society.