Tuesday, 21 November, 2017

U.S. gives Russian Federation 48 hours to close missions

The State Department is demanding the nearly immediate closure of three Russian diplomatic facilities in San Francisco Washington and New York The State Department is demanding the nearly immediate closure of three Russian diplomatic facilities in San Francisco Washington and New York
Christy Curtis | 04 September, 2017, 07:19

The U.S. on Thursday ordered Russian Federation to shutter its consulate in San Francisco and two other buildings in NY and Washington, the latest move in a back-and-forth series of retaliations for Russia's interference in the 2016 election.

Zakharova said in a statement Friday, "American special services intend on September 2 to carry out a search of the consulate in San Francisco including of the apartments of employees who live in the building and have [diplomatic] immunity".

It said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson phoned his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, "to inform him that we had met their required reduction in size by their deadlines".

"Moscow will closely study the new measures announced by the Americans, after which our reaction will be conveyed", the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement. They may be reassigned to other diplomatic or consular posts in the US.

Russia's consulates in New York, Seattle and Houston will remain open.

Lavrov defended Russia's decision to cut US diplomatic staff as reciprocal reaction to the USA expelling Russian diplomats last December. When Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the USA diplomats were being expelled, Trump responded by saying, "I want to thank him because we're trying to cut down the payroll".

Lavrov said Moscow would react to the decision once it has finished analyzing the USA order, the Associated Press reported.

The U.S. had to reduce its diplomatic staff by 755 people. President Trump reluctantly signed the sanctions into law. A State Department official said they would have "sufficient time" to pack their things and move out.

An administration official told reporters in a background briefing that "for a variety of reasons" the consulate in San Francisco had been selected for closure.

"We treat these developments as a blatantly hostile act, a grave violation by Washington of global law, including the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations", said the Russian statement. Each country will now host three consulates of the other.

The US staff have till Friday to leave the country.

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