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EU determined to impose Belarus sanctions, bloc's top diplomat says

FILE PHOTO: The High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell wears a face mask as he arrives for a family photo at the EU foreign ministers' meeting in Berlin, Germany August 28, 2020. On the right is Kay Nietfeld/Pool via REUTERS

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union deplores the escalation of violence in Belarus and will impose sanctions on individuals responsible for election fraud and crackdowns on peaceful protests, top EU diplomat Josep Borrell said on Friday.

Eager to support pro-democracy protests against Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko’s 26-year iron rule, EU ministers are considering sanctions on senior Belarus officials following the Aug. 9 elections that the West say was rigged.

With Belarus a month into mass demonstrations against the election outcome, diplomats have said the EU discussions have been held up by territorial disputes between Cyprus and Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean.

“The EU reiterates its determination to impose sanctions on individuals responsible for violence, the repression of peaceful protests and the falsification of election results,” Borrell said in a statement.

The bloc would also take “further restrictive measures” if needed, he said, without specifying what these would be.

The EU deplores the escalation of violence in Belarus and forced exile of members of the political opposition, which shows an “increasingly open disregard for the rule of law”, Borrell said.

Reporting by Kate Abnett; Editing by Tom Brown