Macron wants Belarus opposition at G7

·2-min read

French President Emmanuel Macron would like to invite the Belarusian opposition to the Group of Seven summit due to be held next month in Cornwall, if the UK hosts agree, the French presidency says.

But a British government spokeswoman said there were no plans at the moment to invite "further national participants to the G7 Summit," adding that the leaders would discuss "Belarus' reckless and dangerous behaviour".

Many EU members are keen to show their support for opponents of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko after authorities in Minsk forced down a passenger plane on Sunday and arrested a dissident journalist on board.

A French presidential official said Macron wanted to invite exiled Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhounskaya to speak at one of the "outreach" sessions, during which outside personalities can address the G7 leaders.

"The G7 is a club of democracies and it is important in the current context to support opponents of Lukashenko's regime," the French official said, adding that Macron was open to inviting the Belarus opposition if the UK agreed to it.

Macron became the highest-profile leader to meet Tsikhounskaya last September.

Her supporters say she won Belarus' contested presidential election last August, a claim Lukashenko rejects.

In a tweet on Tuesday, Tsikhanouskaya, who is now based in EU member Lithuania, thanked Macron for his call to have the Belarusian opposition invited to the G7 summit.

Airlines were shunning Belarusian air space on Tuesday and the country's planes face a possible European ban following the forced landing of the Ryanair flight in Minsk on Sunday and the arrest of 26-year-old journalist Roman Protasevich.

The G7 groups the US, Japan, Germany, France, UK, Italy and Canada.

The UK holds the G7 rotating presidency this year and has scheduled the summit for June 11-13 in the southwestern English county of Cornwall.

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