Lukashenko, Merkel discuss crisis on Poland-Belarus border

AFP , Monday 15 Nov 2021

President Alexander Lukashenko spoke Monday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel about the migrant crisis on the Belarusian-Polish border and a request from Merkel to allow in humanitarian aid, Belarus state media said.

Leaders in the migrants crisis
This combination created on November 10, 2021 of file pictures shows (L-R) German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Poland s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, the President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko and Russia s President Vladimir Putin. AFP

Citing a Telegram channel close to the Belarusian presidency, the Belta state news agency said the two leaders spoke for around an hour. It is Lukashenko's first phone call with a Western leader since he suppressed mass anti-government protests last summer.

Several thousand migrants -- mostly from the Middle East -- are stuck on the border between Poland and Belarus.

The EU says the crisis was engineered by Minsk as revenge for Western sanctions slapped on Lukashenko's regime after its brutal suppression of protests.

According to Belarusian state media, the pair discussed how to solve the migration crisis and that Merkel raised the issue of bringing humanitarian aid to the thousands stuck at the border.

This week Lukashenko's Russian ally President Vladimir Putin had called on EU leaders to talk directly to Lukashenko, and said Merkel was ready to do so.

Also on Monday evening, Putin discussed the crisis with French President Emmanuel Macron, with both sides saying the stand-off should be de-escalated.

The EU on Monday pressed ahead with sanctions targeting Lukashenko's regime.

Migrants have been trying to cross from Belarus into EU member Poland for months, but tensions soared last week as coordinated efforts to cross were turned back by Polish border guards.

Belarus has denied orchestrating the crisis.

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