European Union foreign ministers have met in Luxembourg for talks on issues such as the global financial crisis and the situation in Zimbabwe.
EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, center, speaks with the media priot to a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg, Monday Oct. 13, 2008. [AP]
They also discussed the aftermath of the Russia-Georgia conflict and a reassessment of relations with Belarus.
A first outcome of Monday's meeting was the temporary suspension of a travel ban on Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and other top Belarusian officials.
The 27 EU foreign ministers decided not to unfreeze the assets of several top Belarusian officials and they also kept the head of the country's election commission on the travel ban list.
But the EU ministers are allowing Lukashenko to travel to EU countries in a bid to encourage democratic reforms in the former Soviet republic.
The Belarus foreign minister, Sergei Martynov, welcomed the decision and said his country wanted a productive and substantive relationship with the EU.
The thaw comes as ties between the EU and Moscow are strained over Russia's war with Georgia in August. Analysts say the EU is trying to forge closer ties with its eastern neighbors as a bulwark against Russia.
During Monday's meeting, the EU ministers deferred a decision on when to restart talks with Moscow on a stalled partnership pact. They cited the need to see more evidence that Moscow will honor a cease fire with Georgia.
And the EU also warned that sanctions against Zimbabwe will be imposed if the country fails to implement a power-sharing agreement reached in mid-September.
(CCTV October 14, 2008)