U.S. expels Russian diplomats from DC, NY and San Francisco

The US said the closures needed to be completed by Saturday
The US said the closures needed to be completed by Saturday
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01 September, 2017

In retaliation, the State Department ordered the Russian Government to close its Consulate General in San Francisco, a chancery annex in Washington, D.C., and a consular annex in New York City.

While calling the Russian order "unwarranted", Nauert said Thursday that the US has "fully implemented" the reduction of the USA mission in Russia.

The State Department says the US leaders want to avoid further retaliatory actions by both countries and improve relations and cooperation between the two.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also held a phone conversation with his U.S. counterpart, Rex Tillerson, and expressed his regret about Washington's move. Though Russia can keep its NY consulate and Washington embassy, Russian trade missions housed in satellite offices in those two cities must shut down, said a senior Trump administration official.

In a call with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov expressed "regret at the escalation of tensions" and said Russia will study the new measures before communicating its reaction, according to a statement from the Russian Foreign Ministry. Additionally, the United States will not force Russia to reduce the size of its staff in the country and will allow them to operate in other US -based Russian consular offices, a senior administration official told reporters in a conference call Thursday.

This decision by the U.S.is not irreversible, however.

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That in turn followed United States sanctions over Crimea and alleged Russian interference in the United States election, which led to the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats. It's the latest round in the two countries' tit-for-tat expulsions and property closures.

Although Russia said 755 personnel would have to go to reach that number, Washington never confirmed how many diplomatic staff it had in Russia at the time.

The administration said there was no decision on whether the Russian government would be allowed to take back those facilities.

Thursday's announcement by the State Department came as Russia's new ambassador to Washington, Anatoly Antonov, arrived in the U.S. capital to take up his post, Russian news agencies reported.

"I can't really say that this is permanent", said the official, who added that if the Russians want to "address our concerns", the U.S.is willing to listen. In July, Trump and Putin signed off on a three-way deal with Jordan for a cease-fire in southwest Syria that the USA says has largely held intact.

The cuts ordered by Russian Federation are believed to reduce the USA embassy's staff by more than half, one of the most serious sanctions imposed on the US diplomatic presence in the country since the Cold War.


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