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NATO's Stoltenberg, Britain's Johnson Support Action Against Belarus

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg gestures as he speaks next to Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a news conference following their meeting at Downing Street in London, Britain, June 2, 2021.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson each expressed support Wednesday for a strong response against Belarus for its actions in arresting an opposition journalist.

Speaking at a joint news conference at the prime minister's residence, Stoltenberg said forcing the landing of a civilian aircraft and arresting a journalist on the plane, as Belarus did last month, was a violation of international norms and rules. He called for the immediate release of Raman Pratasevich and his girlfriend.

Stoltenberg said he welcomes sanctions imposed by Britain, the European Union and other allies. Johnson added that the important thing now is to see that those sanctions are fully implemented and perhaps stepped up even further. Johnson called the incident "appalling and outrageous," adding that it was important the allies stand together in protest.

NATO's 30 allies released a two-paragraph statement on Wednesday but did not include any punitive steps that Baltic allies and Poland had urged.

Stoltenberg said the issue is sure to be discussed during a NATO summit scheduled for June 14 in Brussels.