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US plans to impose restrictions on Belarus-Whouse

Written by: Staff

WASHINGTON, Mar 24 (Reuters) The United States condemned a Belarus crackdown on protesters and plans to impose financial sanctions and travel restrictions against government officials, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said today.

McClellan said the United States was calling on authorities in Belarus to ''release without delay'' those detained for protesting the election that outside observers said was flawed.

He spoke shortly after President Alexander Lukashenko, who won five more years in power in the contested Sunday elections, sent in riot police to end days of opposition street protests.

''We strongly condemn the actions by Belarussian security services in the early morning hours of March 24th,'' McClellan said.

''They forcibly seized and detained citizens of Belarus who were peacefully demonstrating against the fraudulent March 19th election results.'' McClellan also praised the European Council for agreeing to impose sanctions on Belarus leaders, including Lukashenko.

''We plan to take parallel steps involving targeted travel restrictions and financial sanctions,'' he said without providing details.

Reuters SI DB2045

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