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MP warns against symmetrical response as US ‘starts hot phase of diplomatic war’

The demand to close the consulate is a very unfair move, according to Leonid Slutsky

MOSCOW, August 31./TASS/. Demanding the closure of the Russian Consulate General in San Francisco, the US has launched the hot phase of a diplomatic war, but Russia should not respond symmetrically, the chairman of the State Duma’s committee for international affairs, Leonid Slutsky told reporters on Thursday.

"The demand to close the consulate is a highly unfair move. This means that the US is declaring the hot phase of a diplomatic war," Slutsky said. "Closing a foreign mission is much more serious than an expulsion of diplomats or even an illegal confiscation of diplomatic property," he went on.

He said Russia must analyze in detail "whether we need symmetrical measures and whether we are going to continue yielding to American provocations, moving in essence towards wrapping up diplomatic relations".

"I am confident we must not allow a freeze in a diplomatic dialogue, especially against the background of the appointment of Russia’s new Ambassador in Washington Anatoly Antonov. We will think and make decisions," he said.

"However, although this move is extremely vexatious and clearly unfounded, I believe Russia should not give a symmetrical response, but on the contrary should try to make every possible effort to maintain an adequate level of diplomatic relations with the US as prerequisite for a major component of global stability," he stressed.

Slutsky also said that he personally regrets the upcoming closure of the Russian Consulate General in San Francisco. "The consulate has very serious contacts, including with scientific and educational establishments of the US. The activity of this foreign mission was covering a rather big consular district, including Hawaii," he summed up.

On Thursday, the US demanded from the Russian government to close three diplomatic offices in the US substantiating this by an alleged bid to restore diplomatic parity. Heather Nauert, a State Department spokeswoman, said in a statement that the US is "requiring the Russian Government to close its Consulate General in San Francisco, a chancery annex in Washington, D.C., and a consular annex in New York City."