New Belarus foreign minister named

AP News
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Posted: Aug 20, 2012 3:11 PM

MINSK, Belarus (AP) — Belarus' authoritarian president has named a new foreign minister in what is being seen as an effort to improve relations with the European Union and United States.

Vladimir Makei, the head of the presidential administration, replaces Sergei Martynov, who had been foreign minister for nine years.

Political analysts saw Monday's appointment as an overture to the West from President Alexander Lukashenko.

The EU has imposed punitive sanctions on Belarus over human rights abuses. Relations soured further this month when Lukashenko's government effectively expelled Sweden's ambassador after he met with opposition activists.

Makei, however, is also on the list of 243 Belarusians targeted by EU travel bans and asset freezes.