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“The positive is that...after the worsening of relations with the United States we consistently proposed closing this bad page and turning over a new leaf."
The President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, met with the U.S. National Security Official, John Bolton, in the capital city of Minsk Thursday as the two nations seek to strengthen their diplomatic ties.
During Bolton's visit, Lukashenko expressed Belarus' desire to 'reset' relations with the United States, despite Minsk's close ties with Russia.
“Despite all the noise around your visit, there is a lot of positive (in it) particularly for Belarus,” Lukashenko was quoted as saying.
“The positive is that...after the worsening of relations with the United States we consistently proposed closing this bad page and turning over a new leaf,” Lukashenko said.
Lukashenko has been at odds with the West for years over Belarus’ human rights record and crackdown on political dissent. He has described himself as the “last dictator in Europe.”
Ahead of the trip, Bolton told reporters in Moldova on Thursday that he planned to warn Lukashenko of the security threat posed to Belarus by Russia.
Belarus and Russia have formally been in a largely symbolic union state since the 1990s, but have said they are currently holding talks to expand that integration, a process that has fueled concern about a quiet annexation by Moscow.
Russia views Belarus as a buffer between its western border and Europe as ties with the West have sunk to post-Cold War lows, but it denies there is anything untoward with its union state project and says Belarus is a close and valued ally.