Macron urges Putin to promote dialogue in Belarus
French President Emmanuel Macron urged his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Tuesday to foster "calm and dialogue" in Belarus, where protests are growing against President Alexander Lukashenko's disputed re-election, the Elysee Palace said.
In a telephone call early Tuesday, Macron "stressed the determination of the European Union to play a constructive role alongside the Belarusian people so that violence against the population ceases immediately and that a political solution can be reached as soon as possible," the French presidency said in a statement.
A solution, it added, must respect "the aspirations expressed peacefully and massively for several days" by protesters demanding Lukashenko step down even in the face of a brutal police crackdown.
Western powers are urging Russia, a Lukashenko ally, not to intervene on his behalf after the Kremlin on Saturday said Putin and Lukashenko had agreed in a phone call that the problems in Belarus "will be resolved soon".
Macron told Putin that France was working towards a peaceful conclusion to the crisis along with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and EU chief Charles Michel ahead of a European Council meeting on Belarus Wednesday, the Elysee statement said.
The French president "called on Russia to foster calm and dialogue," it said.
Michel also talked to Putin on Tuesday and tweeted afterwards that "only peaceful and truly inclusive dialogue can resolve the crisis in Belarus".
Merkel, for her part, called Putin to tell him Belarus must stop dispersing peaceful protests with force, release detainees and negotiate with Lukashenko's critics, according to a government spokesperson.