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EU Foreign Ministers Discuss Ties With Ukraine, Belarus


Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski (right) and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton arrive in Sopot on September 2.

Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski (right) and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton arrive in Sopot on September 2.

European Union foreign ministers discussed ties with association-seeking Ukraine and with Belarus as they met for the second day of an informal meeting in northern Poland.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton told reporters that the bloc is concerned by the recent arrest of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who is now the opposition leader.

"Not surprisingly, we are following the case of Yulia Tymoshenko with great concern," Ashton said. "We have made that clear to Ukraine. We want to continue to negotiate with Ukraine on all the agreements that we are seeking to do. We are also very conscious of the political situation."

Turning to Belarus, she said EU policy toward the regime of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka and its treatment of dissidents is also under consideration.

"In Belarus, we have of course taken notice of some of the developments and of some of the statements that have been made," she said. "But I reiterate that we believe all political prisoners should be released and rehabilitated. That was our position, is our position, and the position that we continue to make very clear."

The 27 EU ministers, led by Ashton, are meeting in Poland's Baltic Sea resort of Sopot.

Also attending are counterparts from Iceland, Turkey, Croatia, Montenegro, and Macedonia -- all nations aspiring to join the bloc.

compiled from agency reports
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