Belarus recalls its U.S. ambassador

Belarus is recalling its ambassador to the United States. It’s also recommending that the American ambassador in Minsk should leave the country. Belarus's Foreign Ministry says the reasons for the move are new U.S. sanctions against national oil company,

It adds that Belarus is ready to take a hard line on the issue.

Officials say tensions between the two countries have risen since Belarus and Venezuela set up a joint oil venture last December. The outspoken leader of the South American country, Hugo Chavez, is a fierce critic of U.S. policies.

The U.S. State Department says the move takes Belarus further away from Europe and the rest of the world.
The U.S. ambassador to Belarus, Karen Stewart, will remain in Minsk despite Belarus's recommendation that she return to Washington.