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Washington expels 60 Russian diplomats
US authorities have decided to expel 60 Russian diplomats and close the Russian consulate in Seattle, an administration official said at a special briefing on Monday.
The diplomats being expelled from the US include 48 embassy staff and 12 members of Russia's Permanent Mission to the United Nations.
While speaking about the members of Russia's Permanent Mission to the UN, the US administration official alleged that they were involved in "aggressive collection here in the US" thus abusing their residence privileges under the UN headquarters agreement.
The Russian diplomats are supposed to leave the United States within a week.
The official added that Washington was ready to take additional steps should the need arise.
At the same time, he noted that Washington planned to leave the door open for dialogue with Moscow.
On March 4, former Russian military intelligence (GRU) Colonel Sergei Skripal, who had been convicted in Russia of spying for Great Britain and exchanged for Russian intelligence officers, and his daughter Yulia suffered the effects of a nerve agent in the British city of Salisbury.
British Prime Minister Theresa May said the substance used in the attack had been a Novichok-class nerve agent developed in the Soviet Union. London expelled 23 Russian diplomats and announced other restrictive measures against Moscow.
Moscow rejected all of the United Kingdom's accusations, saying that a program aimed at developing such a substance had existed neither in the Soviet Union nor in Russia. In retaliation to the UK's steps, 23 British diplomats were expelled, the British consulate general in the city of St. Petersburg was closed and the British Council had to shut down its operations in Russia. At the same time, Moscow pointed out that further measures could be taken "should there be any more hostile actions against Russia.".
[Source: Itar Tass, Washington, 26Mar18]
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