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MOSCOW, July 18. /TASS/. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov has put forward conditions for improving relations between Moscow and Washington, including the return of the Russian diplomatic property, during his meeting with US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas Shannon.
"We came up with a number of ideas on how to achieve a visible and tangible improvement in relations. This also applies to the issue of the unconditional return of the Russian diplomatic property to us," Ryabkov told TASS on Tuesday. "However, it would be an exaggeration to say that we are on the verge of finding a solution and resolving this situation."
According to Ryabkov, the meeting with Shannon held on Monday "went off predictably." "We expected great difficulties during the consultations with the Americans not only on the diplomatic property issue, but on most other issues as well, and so it happened," he stated.
Illegal actions by the US regarding Russian diplomatic property in New York and Maryland cannot go unanswered, Ryabkov said after negotiations with Shannon.
"Such unacceptable and illegal actions cannot go unanswered," he said. "Nothing is to declare on the issue yet, but we have warned Americans that we need an unconditional return of the property; otherwise, retaliation measures will follow."
The senior diplomat confirmed that the dialogue on this issue would continue. "The US side should respond to our numerous signals on what has to be done," Ryabkov explained."We cannot go round in circles. Yet, there is understanding that the consultations will continue."
In December 2016, then-Obama administration applied sanctions on Russia, declaring 35 officials working at the Russian embassy in Washington and the consulate in San Francisco persona non grata and closing two Russian diplomatic compounds in New York and Maryland. Access to these facilities was denied to all Russian officials. Russia has not retaliated yet.
The second round of Russian-American consultations between deputy foreign ministers took place in Washington on July 17. This communication channel was set up following US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s visit to Moscow in Aril. The parties agreed to assign special representatives from the Russian Foreign Ministry and the US Department of State that will analyze the current problems in relations between the two countries.
The first consultations between Ryabkov and Shannon were held in New York on May 8. Then the diplomats were due to meet in St. Petersburg on June 23, but Moscow cancelled the consultations following the extension of anti-Russian sanctions by Washington.