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Russia ready to expel U.S. diplomats if no deal struck on Monday: Russian FM
From:Xinhua  |  2017-07-14 20:31

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MOSCOW, July 14 (Xinhua) -- Russia is ready to expel a number of U.S. diplomats and seize two U.S. properties here in a tit-for-tat response if no deal is reached at a meeting of senior diplomats of the two sides in Washington on Monday, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Friday.

"You know there was a very long pause and it dragged on. So it is obvious that if there is no other way to convince the American partners, we will have to act in this direction at some point," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said at a weekly briefing.

She said that Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov and U.S. Under-Secretary of State Thomas Shannon are expected to discuss this issue at a meeting in Washington.

On Dec. 29, the administration of former U.S. President Barack Obama ordered the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats suspected of spying and closed two compounds belonging to the Russian Embassy in response to Russia's alleged interference in the U.S. presidential election and to "a pattern of harassment of our diplomats overseas."

On the next day, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov proposed to Russian President Vladimir Putin to expel 31 U.S. diplomats and seize a U.S. dacha in Moscow's luxury villa compound of Serebryany Bor and a U.S. warehouse in the south of the Russian capital.

But Putin rejected the proposal, saying in a statement that Russia reserved the right to retaliate depending on the future policy of the new U.S. President Donald Trump.

Zakharova did not specify the number of U.S. diplomats facing expulsion, but said that the staff of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow was much more than Russian Embassy workers in Washington.

"Accordingly, one of the possible options is, besides the purely symmetrical expulsion of the Americans, to simply equalize the staff," she said.