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Moscow gave US 'head start' when negotiating to match diplomatic staff numbers — Lavrov

October 31, 2017, 17:42 UTC+3 MOSCOW

The Russian top diplomat comments on diplomatic staff cut

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© Artiom Korotaev/TASS

MOSCOW, October 31. /TASS/. Moscow has made concessions to Washington while making the number of its Russian diplomatic staff members in the US equal to the number of American diplomatic staff members in Russia, although it was not obliged to do so, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said during a meeting with members of the Association of European Businesses.

"As for the situation as a whole, it does not make us happy," he said. "We had to take this step and make the number of diplomats and staff in general working in Russian diplomatic missions in the US equal to the number [of employees working] in the American missions in Russia. That said, we made a very serious concession, gave a head start to Americans, if you like, because we included 170 employees working in our UN permanent mission in the figures that are the limit for Russian diplomatic staff in the US and American diplomatic staff in Russia." "They have no relation to the bilateral parity and are protected by an agreement between the US and the UN, the so-called agreement regarding the country that hosts the headquarters, and they - if we are speaking about complete parity - should not be included in these figures, ideally," the Russian top diplomat noted.

"We preserved them in the hope that it will somehow help stop this absolutely mad swirl started by Nobel Peace Prize winner [Barrack Obama] in December last year," Lavrov stressed. "It is sad that Obama’s zeal to ruin Russian-American relations created such an impulse and was supported by so many people both among Democrats and, unfortunately, among some Republicans." "This is being done for the sole purpose of achieving by each of these groups of their political goals in the US domestic fight," the Russian foreign minister added.

Prospects for employees

"I am not a great expert in the domestic law of the US and the leading western countries, but I can imagine a situation when, let’s say, American employees would be working in the Russian embassy in Washington, working on non-technical positions, as in case of the US embassy in Russia the issue concerns people who, though registered as technical staff, performed functions that were assigned to diplomatic staff only under Vienna Conventions: They traveled across the country, held meetings, collected public opinion - this is diplomats’ work," Lavrov continued. "But we drew hardly any negative conclusions from it, with some minor exceptions."

"Imagine a few hundred US citizens working in our consulate general in San Francisco that was closed," the minister pointed out. "It was closed by representatives of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, a security service, in an insolent, rude and caddish way; I would say [they even] delved through archives."

"Imagine these American citizens - who worked in this consulate general and were fired - trying to find a new job in a US state organization," Lavrov noted. "Would they be taken on immediately, how do you think? I think no."

"I guess each bureaucracy here should make a decision in accordance with its rules," the Russian foreign minister said. "There are rules in European countries as well regarding individuals who have foreign relatives or are married to foreigners," he added. "How they should be treated?" Lavrov questioned.

"I am confident that if they are talented people - and they must be for sure, because Americans would not hire just anyone - they will definitely find a job," the minister specified. "Why do they need to go to state organizations?" he said. "We’ve got the private sector that greatly needs smart and talented people.".

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