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World: Council of Europe Delegation Seeks All-Side Talks In Minsk

Minsk, 17 June 1997 (RFE/RL) - A Council of Europe team of experts is in Minsk for talks with top government officials and opposition leaders. The team is expected to try to set up round-table talks that would involve President Alyaksandr Lukashenka and the opposition.

The council has also invited both opponents and supporters of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka to a hearing this month in Strasbourg. In January, the council's Parliamentary Assembly suspended indefinitely Belarus' Special Guest Status at the body.

Assembly President Leni Fischer of Germany has severely criticized as undemocratic Lukashenka's November referendum enhancing his powers. Following the referendum, Lukashenka dissolved the old parliament and replaced it with a new body of mostly hand-picked supporters. He also created a new upper chamber, the members of which were all selected by Lukashenka.