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Merkel, Lukashenka Hold Another Call Amid Migrant Crisis, Belarus Says.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Belarusian strongman Alyaksandr Lukashenka held another phone call on November 17, their second this week, amid a migration crisis on the border between Belarus and Poland.

Details of the call -- which was first reported by the Belarus state news agency BelTA -- were not immediately available.

In a rare phone call with Lukashenka on November 15, Merkel discussed humanitarian aid for the thousands of refugees and migrants stranded at the EU-Belarus border.

The November 15 call followed a decision by the European Union to ratchet up sanctions against Belarus for luring migrants from the Middle East to the EU-Belarus border.

Brussels has accused Lukashenka of creating the migrant crisis as retaliation for several rounds of EU sanctions against his country following flawed presidential elections in August 2020.

Migrants trapped in Belarus clashed with Polish soldiers at the border between the two countries on November 16, throwing rocks and debris at the heavily armed guards, who responded with water cannons, tear gas, and flash grenades as the situation at the EU and NATO's eastern border continued to worsen.

The escalation prompted NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg to voice deep concern about Lukashenka's strategy of "putting migrant lives at risk" and to offer support to alliance member Poland.

Thousands of people, mainly from the Middle East, are stuck in makeshift camps in dire conditions on the Belarusian side of the border with Poland, Latvia, and Lithuania, trying to illegally enter the EU.

"The migrants attacked our soldiers and officers with stones and are trying to destroy the fence and get to Poland. Our services used tear gas to stifle the aggression," the Polish Defense Ministry tweeted on November 16.

Based on reporting by BelTA and Reuters

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