Ukraine's new Security Council chief called Thursday for an end to the international isolation of Belarus, praising the three-way talks between Ukraine, Poland and Belarus as a step in the right direction.
Anatoly Kinakh said that Ukraine would direct its efforts toward ensuring that Belarus, led by authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko, is able to play a role international organizations, such as the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe.
Kinakh's comments about bringing Belarus out of isolation are in sharp contrast to the overwhelming view in Europe and the United States, which have treated Lukashenko like a pariah for his crackdown on human rights, the AP reports.
"We consider our dialogue ... an effort to not allow any attempt, even to this or that degree, to isolate Belarus," Kinakh, who was named this week to lead the Security and Defense Council, said during the talks, Ukraine's Unian news agency reported.
Lukashenko, who has ruled since 1994, has quashed dissent, closed independent media and suppressed opposition parties. He has also come under criticism for his government's crackdown on Belarus' small Polish minority.
Last week, Ukraine offered to help mediate with the European Union on behalf of Belarus, but Belarus rejected the offer.
The three-way talks Thursday, which were hosted by Ukraine's Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk, were held with the aim of improving border control between the neighboring states. Participating on behalf of Poland was National Security Bureau chief Jerzy Bar, and Security Council chief Gennady Neviglas came from Belarus. Later, Bar and Neviglas met with Kinakh.