Belarus Snubs NATO Summit

MINSK -- Belarus, subject to Western sanctions over its human rights record, said Wednesday that it was staying away from a NATO summit in Bucharest because of restrictions on who could attend.

Belarussian officials had been invited to attend a meeting Thursday in Bucharest of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, which oversees cooperation with states that are not NATO members.

Officials did not say which officials had been denied permission to attend the meeting.

But a source close to the ministry said, "Belarus had presumed it would be taking part at the ministerial level. But we were told there were restrictions."

Also Wednesday, Deputy Foreign Minister Viktor Gaisyonok said Belarus has asked the United States for a new staffing cut of more than 50 percent at its Minsk embassy.

Gaisyonok said Minsk had told Washington it wanted each side to have a diplomatic staff of seven. The earlier cut left staff at the Minsk embassy at 17.