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Russia firmly rejects new US sanctions, Lavrov tells Pompeo

At the same time, Lavrov and Pompeo have agreed to continue contacts on all matters of mutual interest

MOSCOW, August 10. /TASS/. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has held a telephone talk with his US counterpart Michael Pompeo on Friday, pointing out that Moscow strictly rejected new US sanctions, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

"Russia expressed strict rejection of new sanctions Washington unveiled recently, citing Moscow’s alleged involvement in the so-called Skripal case," the statement reads.

The Russian top diplomat stressed that "since the Salisbury incident, neither the US nor Great Britain nor any other country have presented a single fact to prove these allegations."

According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, the telephone call was initiated by the United States.

On Wednesday, the US Department of State said in a statement that Washington was imposing new sanctions on Moscow over its alleged involvement in the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in the British city of Salisbury. The first round of sanctions will take effect on August 22, while a second round may be introduced in 90 days in case Russia fails to meet certain conditions, the State Department said.

Skripal saga

According to London, former Russian military intelligence (GRU) Colonel Sergei Skripal, 66, who had been convicted in Russia of spying for Great Britain and later swapped for Russian intelligence officers, and his daughter Yulia, 33, suffered the effects of an alleged nerve agent in the British city of Salisbury on March 4. Claiming that the substance used in the attack had been a Novichok-class nerve agent developed in the Soviet Union, London rushed to accuse Russia of being involved in the incident. Moscow rejected all of the United Kingdom’s accusations, saying that neither the Soviet Union nor Russia ever had any program aimed at developing such a substance.

However, the UK expelled 23 Russian diplomats and announced other restrictive measures against Moscow without presenting any evidence of its involvement in the incident. In retaliation to the UK’s steps, Russia expelled 23 British diplomats, closed the British consulate general in the city of St. Petersburg, while the British Council had to shut down its operations in Russia.

In the wake of the Skripal incident, a number of EU member countries, the United States, Canada and Australia announced the expulsion of Russian diplomats. Washington expelled 60 diplomatic workers and closed the Russian consulate in Seattle.

The Russian Foreign Ministry later announced retaliatory measures against counties that had expelled Russian diplomats. In particular, Moscow expelled 60 US diplomats and closed the US consulate general in the city of St. Petersburg.

Russia-US dialogue

Sergey Lavrov and Michael Pompeo have also agreed to continue dialogue on all issues of mutual interest for Moscow and Washington.

"The two top diplomats agreed to maintain contacts on all issues of mutual interest," the ministry said.

"The sides discussed a number of issues of the international agenda, including the situation in Syria, and other topics that were in focus of a meeting between the Russia and US presidents on July 16 in Helsinki," the ministry said, adding that the conversation was initiated by the US side.

Russian and US Presidents, Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump, held their first full-format talks in the Finnish capital city Helsinki on July 16. Before that, they had met only on the sidelines of international events. In Helsinki, the two leaders discussed bilateral and international problems. After the talks, they described them as a big step forward.