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Lavrov says return of Russian, US ambassadors is important, symbolic gesture

This measure is capable of creating conditions for beginning a discussion about what is to be done to dispose of the existing problems in bilateral relations, Russian Foreign Minister noted

MOSCOW, June 18. /TASS/. The return of Russian ambassador Anatoly Antonov to Washington and US ambassador John Sullivan to Moscow Russia and the United States have agreed on is an important but rather symbolic gesture, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told a news conference on Friday.

"The ambassadors' return is first and foremost a symbolic gesture. It is important but symbolic, although it is charged with some content, because the presence of ambassadors, and their deputies, in the capitals always allows for a little bit more active discussions, as the ambassadors have the corresponding powers from their presidents," Lavrov said.

He believes that the ambassadors' return is capable of creating conditions for beginning a discussion about what is to be done to dispose of the "heaps of problems that the Americans have created in bilateral relations". Lavrov recalled that six Russian diplomatic properties were taken away from Russia in 2016. Then there followed several expulsions of Russian diplomatic staffers, to which Moscow responded proportionately.

"The presidents agreed that these problems must be settled somehow, but possibly, this will happen only in one case: if we take synchronized and proportionate steps, which will simultaneously address the issue of our presence in the United States and US diplomatic and other presence in Russia," Lavrov said.

Speaking at a news conference following a meeting with US President Joe Biden in Geneva President Vladimir Putin said that the two sides had agreed to return the ambassadors to their places of work in Moscow and Washington. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Thursday that Russia's ambassador Anatoly Antonov, who was earlier invited to Moscow for consultations on Russian-US relations, would return to Washington next week.