21 October 2018

US orders Russia to close 3 diplomatic buildings

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The U.S. on Thursday ordered Russia to shutter three diplomatic facilities by Sept. 2 as tensions continue to escalate between the world powers.

The State Department said it was taking the action in line with "the spirit of parity invoked by the Russians" after Moscow ordered the U.S. to reduce its diplomatic staff in Russia.

Among the buildings closed will be the San Francisco consulate general, a chancery annex in Washington, DC and a consular annex in New York.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was notified of the decision during a Thursday call with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that a senior administration official characterized as "very professional".

During the call, Tillerson also informed Lavrov that the U.S. had met the size reduction ordered by Russia. Both leaders agreed it was important that Russia and the U.S. find a way to improve relations, the official said.

Both countries will have three consulates in each other's countries following Thursday's action, according to spokeswoman Heather Nauert.

"While there will continue to be a disparity in the number of diplomatic and consular annexes, we have chosen to allow the Russian government to maintain some of its annexes in an effort to arrest the downward spiral in our relationship," Nauert said in a statement.

"The United States hopes that, having moved toward the Russian Federation’s desire for parity, we can avoid further retaliatory actions by both sides and move forward to achieve the stated goal of both of our presidents: improved relations between our two countries and increased cooperation on areas of mutual concern," she added.

Nauert said the U.S. was prepared to take additional actions "as warranted."

The San Francisco consulate is Russia's oldest and most established diplomatic facility in the U.S., according to the senior administration official, who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity.

She confirmed to reporters that no Russian officials were expelled as part of the U.S. order, and Russia can reassign its staff to other U.S. posts should it choose to do so.

2017.09.01 / 09:08
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