Lithuanian officials on Friday asked diplomats from more than 20 countries to support Vilnius at a meeting of the parties to the Espoo Convention scheduled to take place in Minsk next month.

"Lithuania is asking for support for our position that there has to be an international expert group, rather than a bilateral Lithuania-Belarus group, to look into these safety issues," Environment Minister Kestutis Navickas told foreign diplomats in Buivydziai, a village near Lithuania's border with Belarus.

Latvia's ambassador to Lithuania, Einars Semanis, said during the meeting in Buivydziai that Latvia backed Lithuania in its efforts to ensure that the Astravyets plant meets the safety standards. However, Latvia's position differs from that of Lithuania in that the former does not seek a halt to the project, he said.

"We are, of course, sharing all the concerns, which are related with the building process and security standards regarding the Astravyets nuclear power plant and we raise these issues at international level. (...)" Semanis told reporters.

“The plant, certainly, should correspond to the security requirements of different important international conventions. For example, Espoo and Aarhus. We are really here on the same line with Lithuanian concerns,” the Latvian ambassador said.

"We ourselves are working with Belarusians to have an agreement on exchange of information on nuclear security issues," he added.

The ambassadors of Latvia, Italy, Sweden, the Czech Republic, the United Kingdom, Moldova, the Netherlands and Romania took part in the meeting and the embassies of Croatia, Finland, Japan, Spain, Canada, France, Norway, Poland, Estonia, the US and Turkey sent in their representatives.

Minsk will host on Jun. 13-16 the 7th session of the Meeting of the Parties to the Espoo Convention, in which the Astravyets plant safety issues are expected to be discussed.