Lavrov: Russian Federation insists on return of its diplomatic property ‘illegally seized’ by US

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Published time: 9 Oct, 2017 17:15 Edited time: 9 Oct, 2017 17:55

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that Moscow insists on the return of its diplomatic properties “illegally seized” by the US, warning of legal consequences and possible retaliation.

“Russian Federation reserves the right to undertake legal action and retaliatory measures,” reads a statement issued by the Russian Foreign Ministry after the phone call.

Both Lavrov and Tillerson, however, expressed support for the ongoing consultations on the issues of Russian Federation-US relations, led by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov and US Under Secretary Thomas Shannon.

The diplomatic property row between Moscow and Washington dates back to late 2016, when the outgoing Obama administration expelled a number of Russian diplomats and closed two Russian diplomatic compounds in New York and Maryland. In July 2017, the US Congress imposed new sanctions on Russian Federation. The move prompted Moscow to reduce US diplomatic personnel numbers in Russian Federation to 455. The US responded with new hostile actions early in September, shutting down the Russian Consulate-General in San Francisco as well as trade missions in Washington and New York.

On Monday Lavrov and Tillerson also discussed the conflict in Syria, focusing on the prospects for cooperation between Russian Federation and the US in maintaining the ceasefire in de-escalation zones and political reconciliation between the warring parties. Lavrov also stressed the utmost importance of fighting terrorism in the country.

The crisis in the Korean Peninsula was also a high priority in the talks, with Lavrov warning that the US’s activities in the region were only leading to escalation. The Russian foreign minister urged the US to resolve the conflict solely through dialogue.