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Diplomat Says U.S. Is 'Concerned' About Belarus Election

24 February 2006 (RFE/RL) -- A top U.S. diplomat says it looks increasingly unlikely that Belarus will have a free and fair presidential election.

David Kramer, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs, made the comments today in Minsk.

"I have also had the opportunity to impress upon the officials here in Minsk that we're watching the election [in Belarus] very carefully, that the United States expects there to be a free and fair election, but that the United States is also very concerned by current trends that seem to be moving in a different direction," Kramer said.

Speaking elsewhere in Minsk, Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka said he would win the 19 March poll fairly.

Lukashenka, who's seeking a third term, faces three other contenders, including Alyaksandr Milinkevich, who is backed by the main opposition groups.

(with additional material from dpa, Belapan)

Copyright (c) 2006. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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