Lithuanian president to visit Belarus

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite will discuss forthcoming presidential polls in Belarus and energy issues with her counterpart Alexander Lukashenko during a working visit to Minsk on Wednesday, the Lithuanian president's website said.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, to be chaired by Lithuania next year, "pays great attention to the issues of human rights and development of democracy," Grybauskaite was quoted on the website as saying. That is why, she said, "transparent and open presidential elections in Belarus, due on December 19, will be one of the main topics [of discussion] during the visit."

The Lithuanian Foreign Ministry said the visit was aimed at encouraging Belarus to take a more open position towards Europe. Rapprochement between Belarus and Europe will depend on the ability of the country's authorities to hold the forthcoming elections in compliance with international standards, the ministry said.

According to the Belarusian president's official website, Wednesday's talks will focus on trade and economic cooperation between the countries.

Lithuania, along with Ukraine, Latvia and Estonia, is a transshipment point for Venezuelan oil being supplied to Belarus. Increasing oil supplies via Lithuania would allow Belarus to decrease expenses on crude delivery.

The two countries are also expected to sign an agreement easing visa requirements for residents of border territories during Grybauskaite's visit, the Lithuanian president's website said.

The European Parliament's resolution 1931/2006 allows states parties to the Schengen agreement to establish a simplified visa regime for people living in the 30-km (or 50-km) zone from both sides of the external border.

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Audronius Azubalis will accompany Grybauskaite on her trip.

VILNIUS, October 20 (RIA Novosti)


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