Warsaw and Minsk exchange blows

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WARSAW, July 24 (RIA Novosti, Leonid Sviridov) - Poland is planning to expel Belarus' ambassador to the country in swipe at Minsk, Polish Foreign Ministry Press Secretary Alexander Checko said Monday.

"This decision is a response to the entirely baseless expulsion of Polish embassy diplomats from Minsk," Checko said.

Polish Foreign Minister Andrzej Zalucki summoned Belarussian Ambassador Pavel Latushko to the Polish Foreign Affairs Ministry and informed him of the Polish authorities' decision that he must leave Poland.

He said the Polish ministry is ready to seek a compromise and is making attempts to improve relations with Belarus. Poland plans, among other things, to lower visa costs for Belarussians.

The Belarussian Embassy in Warsaw's press service said Belarussian Embassy adviser Maxim Ryzhenkov left Poland on July 20. On July 21, a Polish embassy adviser left Minsk.

On July 22, the Belarussian Foreign Ministry announced that the Polish Dialog fund had been removed from Belarus. Belarussian state television accused the fund of spying.

A Belarussian Foreign Ministry statement on July 22 said the Polish authorities' actions are aimed at damaging relations between the two countries.

The statement said that at the meeting of the Union of Poles in Belarus, a new leadership was elected and consequently illegitimate by the Belarussian authorities, provoking a negative reaction from Warsaw.

"The situation surrounding this Belarussian organization will be resolved according to our legal procedures. Attempts to influence it from within will be treated as interference in our internal affairs and sovereignty," the ministry said in a statement.

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