US President Joe Biden has met with Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya in a show of support for the beleaguered rivals of President Alexander Lukashenko.
"I was honoured to meet with Svetlana Tikhanovskaya at the White House this morning. The United States stands with the people of Belarus in their quest for democracy and universal human rights," Biden tweeted along with a picture of the two talking.
Their meeting had not been announced publicly beforehand.
Tikhanovskaya said via Telegram that she had asked Biden to throw US officials' weight behind the opposition so Belarus could become a "successful example of a non-violent transition to democracy".
She described it as a "moral duty" for the US to help the Belarusian people.
She also called attention to the numerous political prisoners in her homeland - including her husband Sergei Tikhanovsky.
Tikhanovskaya had already met with Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Biden's National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan in Washington DC last week.
Tikhanovskaya - who was forced to leave Belarus after unsuccessfully challenging Lukashenko in 2020 elections that the opposition says was rigged - has met with a host of European leaders, including Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel, as she lobbies for foreign support.
The US, EU and the UK have slapped sanctions on Belarus.
Australian Associated Press