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'US stands with the people of Belarus,' says Biden after hosting Tsikhanouskaya

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By Euronews with AP, AFP
Joe Biden said on Twitter he was "honoured" to meet Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya at the White House.
Joe Biden said on Twitter he was "honoured" to meet Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya at the White House.   -   Copyright  HANDOUT / THE WHITE HOUSE / AFP
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US President Joe Biden has expressed support for pro-democracy voices in Belarus after meeting the country's leading opposition figure, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya.

Biden hosted Tsikhanouskaya at the White House in Washington, DC on Wednesday, and later tweeted that the meeting was an "honour".

"The United States stands with the people of Belarus in their quest for democracy and universal human rights," Biden added.

Tsikhanouskaya, who was forced to leave Belarus by the regime of President Alexander Lukashenko, has been touring the US capital this month, seeking support for the country's opposition.

In a statement, she said that she had urged US officials to support negotiations aimed at new national elections under international monitoring, and to provide emergency funding for Belarus' civil society and news media.

"I asked President Biden to stand with Belarus and support our democratic movement with concrete actions," Tsikhanouskaya added.

Speaking to AFP, she also said that her visit to the White House "sends a message to the whole world that the most powerful country in the world is with us".

The opposition figure entered politics after her husband's imprisonment and unsuccessfully challenged Lukashenko in the 2020 elections, which the opposition and western countries say were rigged.

The disputed vote prompted months of protests in Belarus, followed by an extensive crackdown that has seen more than 35,000 people arrested and thousands beaten by police.

In May, the US announced that it was imposing sanctions on Lukashenko's government after it forced a Ryanair passenger to land in Minsk, in order to capture and detain a Belarus journalist travelling aboard.

Earlier this month, Tsikhanouskaya met with US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken to discuss a list of Belarusian state-owned companies that she believes the US should increase sanctions on.

Lukashenko has denounced the US and European sanctions as "destructive" and has previously accused western countries of interfering in Belarusian affairs.