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The European Union has extended its sanctions against Belarus by another 12 months.

In a statement on October 29, the EU cited the continued incarceration of political prisoners, human rights abuses, and a lack of democratic and judicial reform as reasons for the extension.

The decision means that travel bans and asset freezes -- affecting 232 individuals and 25 entities -- will remain in place until October 31, 2014.

But the 28-member bloc also said it remains committed to its "policy of critical engagement with Belarus," with the goals of promoting human rights and democracy.

The decision comes as Belarus is due to attend the EU's Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius as one of six former Soviet countries seeking closer relations with the bloc.

In June, the EU lifted a travel ban on Belarusian Foreign Minister Uladzimir Makey in order to "facilitate diplomatic contacts."


Based on reporting by dpa, AFP, and ITAR-TASS
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