Belarus–United States relations
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Interstate relations between the United States and Belarus began in 1991 upon the dissolution of the Soviet Union, of which Belarus had been a part. However, the relations have turned sour due to accusations by the United States that Belarus has been undemocratic. Belarus, in turn, has accused the United States of interfering in its internal affairs.
According to the 2012 U.S. Global Leadership Report, only 20% of Belarusians approve of U.S. leadership, with 30% disapproving and 50% uncertain, the fourth-lowest rating for any surveyed country in Europe.1
The United States has encouraged Belarus to conclude and adhere to agreements with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on the program of macroeconomic stabilization and related reform measures, as well as to undertake increased privatization and to create a favorable climate for business and investment. Although there has been some American direct private investment in Belarus, its development has been relatively slow given the uncertain pace of reform. An Overseas Private Investment Corporation agreement was signed in June 1992 but has been suspended since 1995 because Belarus did not fulfill its obligations under the agreement. Belarus is eligible for Export-Import Bank short-term financing insurance for U.S. investments, but because of the adverse business climate, no projects have been initiated.
In early September 2001, the United States condemned Belarus for having irregularities in the recent election that caused Alexander Lukashenko to be re-elected. However, this criticism was short lived since two days after the announcement on September 9, the United States came under the September 11, 2001 attacks.
During Operation Iraqi Freedom, several American intelligence agencies accused Belarus of providing a safe haven for the deposed leader, Saddam Hussein and his sons Uday and Qusay. The only evidence that was presented was a cargo flight from the Iraqi capital of Baghdad to the Belarusian capital of Minsk, documentation of which was found after the capture of the Baghdad airport in April 2003. While some sources said that Lukashenko was close to Saddam and Saddam had thought about leaving Iraq to go to Belarus, Saddam was found in Iraq in December 2003 and his sons were killed in Iraq a few months earlier.
The relationship with the United States was further strained, after Congress unanimously passed the Belarus Democracy Act of 2004, which is considered by the Belarusian government to interfere with Belarus internal affairs.
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- Digital Video Conference with Deputy Assistant Secretary Steven Pifer and Belarusian and International Journalists (2003)