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Belarus Invites Ambassadors Back

October 27, 1998

MINSK, Belarus (AP) _ Belarus is inviting foreign ambassadors to return to a diplomatic compound they were evicted from this summer.

The United States and several European countries recalled their ambassadors to protest the move, which they said violated international law.

President Alexander Lukashenko’s government said it needed to repair the plumbing and sewage system in the Drozdy compound on the outskirts of the capital, Minsk. The ambassadors maintained Belarus had no right to force them out.

Lukashenko then claimed that the compound, located down the street from his own home, was part of the presidential residence.

``We have proposed several nations that their ambassadors return to Drozdy on certain conditions,″ Foreign Ministry spokesman Igor Poluyan told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

He refused to say which countries or elaborate on the conditions for their return.

Belarusian Foreign Minister Ivan Antonovich said in a television interview Monday that the government had repaired the residence of the Turkish ambassador and invited her to come back.

A spokesman for the ambassador said Tuesday that Turkey hadn’t yet responded to the Belarusian proposal.

The European Union and nearly a dozen other countries imposed travel restrictions on Belarusian officials over the dispute. The matter further clouded relations between Belarus and the West, long critical of Lukashenko’s authoritarian policies.

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