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USA orders closure of Russian consulate

04 September 2017

Speaking to students at Russia's top diplomacy school on Friday Lavrov said Moscow "will have a tough response to the things that come totally out of the blue to hurt us and are driven exclusively by the desire to spoil our relations with the United States".

The consulate in San Francisco is the oldest and most established of Russia's consulates in the United States, the senior Trump administration official told reporters.

The Russian government has called out the United States for committing what it calls a "blatantly hostile act" by closing three Russian diplomatic posts.

The United States of America has given Russian Federation 48 hours to close three of its missions in San Francisco, Washington D.C. and NY.

The first punishment, handed down by President Obama, forced Russia to move out of two diplomatic compounds in the US and send home 35 Russian diplomats.

The decision was in retaliation for Russian President Vladimir Putin kicking out more than 700 US diplomats - after Trump, reluctantly, signed a sanctions law passed by Congress.

"I want to say that this whole story with (the two countries) exchanging tit-for-tat sanctions was not started by us".

The facilities to close are a San Francisco consulate, annexes in Washington and NY.

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"We believe this action was unwarranted and detrimental to the overall relationship between our countries", State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement about Russia's move.

President Trump had not promised to retaliate for the expulsion of US diplomatic staff from the country, but instead thanked Russian President Vladimir Putin after the order came down from Moscow.

"We urge the USA authorities to come to their senses and immediately return the Russian diplomatic facilities", the ministry added on its website.

Russian officials said that demand was Moscow's response to a USA law strengthening sanctions against Russia over issues including its alleged meddling in the US presidential election in 2016.

The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement that Lavrov "expressed regrets over the escalation of tensions in bilateral relations, which were not initiated by us". Lavrov did not specify what Moscow's next step could be, saying that the U.S. statement was received in the early hours and was yet to be examined.

"These inspections were carried out to secure and protect the facilities and to confirm the Russian government had vacated the premises".

Tillerson and Lavrov are due to meet in September on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York City.

USA orders closure of Russian consulate