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Monday, May 09, 2005

 

Bush: No deal with Lukashenka

From Reuters:

President Bush said on Saturday there should be free elections in Belarus and ruled out any secret U.S. deal with Moscow to let President Alexander Lukashenko keep power.

"The only deal that I think is a necessary deal for

people is the deal of freedom. They should be allowed to express themselves in free and open and fair elections in Belarus," Bush told a joint news conference with the leaders of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia in the Latvian capital.

There are fears in Belarus' neighboring Baltic countries that Lukashenko will cut a deal to remain in power. Russia and the United States have clashed over Belarus with Moscow rebuffing calls by Washington for change.

Bush, on his way to Moscow for Monday's ceremonies marking the end of World War II in Europe, stressed during his stop in Latvia that for the Baltics the end of the war meant the start of decades of Soviet occupation.

Asked about the possibility of striking a deal to help Lukashenko, Bush said: "Can you make a deal to determine somebody else's fate?

"I think that's what we're lamenting here today about what happened to the Baltics -- one of those secret deals among large powers that consigns people to a way of governing. No, we don't make secret deals," he said.

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