BRUSSELS, July 23 (UPI) -- Belarus Foreign Minister Vladimir Makey discussed economic and business ties with the EU in Brussels after the visa ban against him was lifted, officials said.
Makey, a former military intelligence officer, is the first regime official to visit the European Union capital since Minsk's violent crackdown on opponents following December 2010's rigged presidential elections, the EUoberver reported.
The 2010 crackdown saw hundreds of protesters beaten by KGB agents and baton-wielding riot police.
Human Rights Watch and the International Federal for Human Rights opposed Makey's visit to Brussels.
"If the EU wants to engage Belarusian officials, it should be about releasing political prisoners and ending the harassment of civil society," Human Rights Watch said in a statement.
Among those jailed is Nobel peace prize nominee Alex Bialiatski.
During his visit, Makey discussed improving ties in the context of the EU's Lithuania summit in November with six post-Soviet countries.