News in Brief

Lukashenko Defends Vote



MINSK -- Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko on Tuesday defended his country's parliamentary elections despite the opposition's failure to win a single seat.

Lukashenko told observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation Tuesday that the vote was in line with Belarussian law. He said Belarus now expects the EU to lift economic and travel sanctions against Belarus.

The OSCE said the vote fell short of democratic standards.

The United States and the European Union have imposed economic sanctions on the country and a travel ban on Lukashenko and his officials.

"Visa restrictions are a shame for Europe," Lukashenko said. (AP)




U.S. Stalling Pact: Lavrov



UNITED NATIONS -- Russia has accused the United States of stonewalling negotiations on a new pact on reducing the size of the two powers' nuclear arsenals.

"Negotiations between us and Washington to make sure that after the START I treaty expires in December 2009 we have some meaningful strategic arms control regime, these negotiations are not so far heading anywhere," Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday.

Speaking on the sidelines of the annual open debate of the UN General Assembly, which ended later on Monday, Lavrov said the reason the talks had stalled was that "our American colleagues do not want to keep limits on the delivery vehicles [missiles] and on nuclear warheads in storage." (Reuters)