Belarus has lifted the restrictions on the number of US diplomats in Minsk, Foreign Policy reported. According to the magazine, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belarus Vladimir Makei notified the US officials of the lifting of restrictions in a telephone call. The news publication calls this decision “a diplomatic breakthrough”.
In March 2008, the diplomatic staff of the US Embassy in Minsk was reduced from 35 to 5 people under the pressure of Belarusian authorities.
The restriction on the number of diplomats followed Washington’s sanctions imposed on Belarus due to the violation of human rights in the country. This decision led to a number of restrictions in the relations between the two countries. For 10 years, up until 2018, Belarusians were not able to obtain visas to the United States. Belarusians had to travel to the US embassies in other countries to get a business or tourist visa.
In late August 2018, Jennifer Moore was appointed the US Charge d’Affaires in Belarus. In an interview with Radio Liberty, she said that she would work to return the US ambassador to Minsk.
Foreign Policy links the expansion of the US Embassy in Minsk with the conflict of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko with the Russian Federation. This is the beginning of a thaw, a source of the publication said.
The Foreign Ministry of Belarus confirmed the fact of negotiations on the expansion of the US Embassy in Minsk. However, they did not either confirm or deny the lifting of restrictions.