Belarus opposition leader to meet No. 2 U.S. diplomat on Monday

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun speaks to the media beside his South Korean counterpart Lee Do-hoon after their meeting at the Foreign Ministry in Seoul, South Korea, July 8, 2020. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji/Pool

VILNIUS (Reuters) - Belarus opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya will meet U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun in Lithuania on Monday as part of efforts to defuse the crisis over disputed elections, her team told Reuters.

The No. 2 U.S. diplomat will stop over in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius en route to Moscow as Washington seeks a peaceful resolution to the crisis that would avert Russian intervention.

In the biggest challenge to Lukashenko’s 26 years in power, people have taken to the streets in many Belarusian towns, including in its capital Minsk, for nearly two weeks, protesting against the result of an Aug. 9 election that they say was rigged to hand the president re-election.

Reporting by Andrius Sytas; Editing by Mark Heinrich