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Belarusian President 'Will Not Attend' Prague Summit

Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka
PRAGUE (RFE/RL) -- An organizer of the European Union's Eastern Partnership summit in Prague told RFE/RL's Belarus Service that President Alyaksandr Lukashenka will not attend the May 7 event.

The source, who wished to remain anonymous, says the Belarusian delegation will be led by Deputy Prime Minister Uladzimir Syamashka and that Foreign Minister Syarhey Martynau will also be in the delegation.

Belarusian government press secretary Alyaksandr Tsymashenka would neither confirm nor deny the report when contacted by RFE/RL.

The Eastern Partnership is an EU-initiated project to develop cooperation between the EU and Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine, and Belarus. The project was officially announced on March 20.

Czech President Vaclav Klaus has said he would neither shake Lukashenka's hand nor invite him to the Prague castle if he comes to the Czech capital.

But Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi told Lukashenka during his recent trip to Italy that he hopes to see him in Prague.