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Washington ‘pushing’ Whelan’s return — Biden

The American president did not give details of what measures are being taken in Washington
US President Joe Biden Mikhail Metzel/TASS
US President Joe Biden
© Mikhail Metzel/TASS

WASHINGTON, March 4. /TASS/. The US Administration is "pushing" the matter of bringing back Paul Whelan, sentenced in Russia for espionage, President Joe Biden told reporters, cited by the White House press corps.

Joe Biden "came over very briefly, saying about Paul Whelan: ‘we’re pushing’," the White House press pool said. "He then seemed ready to make a statement or engage further. As he approached the group, there was a shouted question about COVID origins," the press corps noted.

Biden "then put both hands up in a shrug, seeming annoyed, and then turned and walked away," the press pool added.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Thursday that he had contacted Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov with a request to accept the US’ offer on exchange of Paul Whelan.

The topic of Whelan’s exchange had not been raised in the conversation between Lavrov and Blinken on the sidelines of the G20 Foreign Ministers Meeting in New Delhi, official spokeswoman of the Russian Foreign Ministry Maria Zakharova informed on Friday.

Whelan, who has citizenship of Ireland, Canada, the US and the UK, was detained in Russia during an espionage action on December 28, 2018. The Federal Security Service (FSB) of Russia initiated a criminal case over charges of espionage. The Moscow City Court sentenced Whelan to 16 years in prison.