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Germany: Belarus blocks rights official’s visit

BERLIN (AP) – Germany’s human rights commissioner says Belarus has blocked his plans to visit the country and meet with a jailed human rights activist.

Markus Loening said he also wanted to give authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko a letter from Germany’s foreign minister calling for a “humanitarian solution” to individual cases during a three-day visit to the former Soviet republic starting Wednesday.

Loening planned to meet with Ales Belyatsky, a leading Belarus rights activist who was convicted of tax evasion and imprisoned in November. His trial was widely criticized by U.S. and European officials as politically motivated.

Loening _ who also hoped to meet with dissidents and relatives of other prisoners _ said: “I very much regret that I am not welcome in Minsk.”

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