The United States joined European nations Friday in imposing sanctions on Belarus in retaliation for a crackdown on political protesters after an election that the White House said was fraudulent.

White House press secretary Scott McClellan said Washington would act in unison with the European Union in applying targeted travel restrictions and financial sanctions against President Alexander Lukashenko and others.

"We urge all members of the international community to demand that authorities in Belarus respect the rights of their own citizens to express themselves peacefully and to condemn any and all abuses," McClellan said.

He said the United States strongly condemned actions by Belarus' security forces who seized and detained citizens demonstrating against the results of the presidential election.

"The United States calls on authorities in Belarus to release without delay the hundreds of citizens who have been detained not only in the past 24 hours but in recent days and weeks simply for expressing their political views," McClellan said.