EU to consult before deciding on Belarus sanctions

The European Union today said it was consulting neighbouring countries before deciding on any sanctions on Belarussian officials following presidential elections in the ex-Soviet country, and would also talk to Russia.

EU foreign ministers said on Monday they were likely to impose sanctions on top political leaders in Belarus after declaring fraudulent the election that gave authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko a third consecutive term.

The 25-member bloc would consult all candidates for EU membership, countries in the western Balkans and other neighbours, such as Norway, before making a decision, Austrian State Secretary for European Affairs Hans Winkler told the European Parliament in Brussels.

"It's important that anything we do is done on the basis of a very broad agreement," Winkler said on behalf of the EU, as his country holds the rotating EU presidency. "We must also talk to Russia."

The sanctions are likely to include a wider travel ban on Belarussian officials. The EU's current ban covers only half a dozen or so people, and Lukashenko is not among them.