The authoritarian president of Belarus has promised to consider pardons for jailed opposition figures that the West considers political prisoners.
Alexander Lukashenko's statement Thursday comes in the wake of Belarus' increasing isolation. The European Union in February introduced new sanctions against Belarus over repression of the political opposition.
Belarus then asked the head of the EU's delegation and the Polish ambassador to leave, prompting EU countries to recall all their ambassadors.
Twelve opposition figures, including two former presidential candidates, are behind bars and considered political prisoners.
In a meeting with government officials, Lukashenko said "Regarding those who seek a pardon, I will consider these in the near future."