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Germany threatens wider EU sanctions against Belarus

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Germany said Monday it was prepared to back an expansion of European Union sanctions against leading figures in Belarus over its bloody crackdown on demonstrators.

After EU ministers agreed Friday to draw up a list of targets in Belarus for a new round of sanctions, German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said even stronger measures should be considered.

“Of course we are looking at the option of expanding the sanctions to other leading figures,” he told reporters.

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Germany holds the rotating presidency of the EU.

Seibert called the mass demonstrations against this month’s disputed presidential election “impressive” and “moving” and urged an immediate end to violent reprisals and the release of “political prisoners”.

“These people should know that Europe stands by them,” he said.

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Seibert urged a “national dialogue” between the government and opposition “to surmount the crisis”, adding that the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) could play a role with a “review of the election”.

The OSCE has sent observers to Belarus since 2001 but has said it was not invited to monitor the latest presidential election.

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