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Belarus: Minsk Warns Czechs On Visas

Minsk, 12 November 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Belarus has warned the Czech Republic against declining to issue visas to President Alyaksandr Lukashenka and other Belarus officials who want to visit Prague for next week's NATO summit (21-22 November). The Belarusian Foreign Ministry said Czech visa denials to the Belarus delegation would be seen as "a step aimed at breaking bilateral relations."

The ministry said there are no legal grounds for the Czechs to refuse to issue the visas.

The Belarusian Foreign Ministry yesterday summoned the acting Czech charge d'affaires in Minsk, Ales Fojtik, to express the government's view.

Czech officials say no decision has yet been made on whether to issue visas to the Belarusian party.

Belarus, which has opposed NATO expansion, is a member of the NATO-affiliated Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council which is due to meet in Prague on 22 November.