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Russia floats sanctions-easing offer to U.S.

by The Associated. Press | October 13, 2021 at 4:28 a.m.

MOSCOW -- Russia made an offer to the U.S. on Tuesday to roll back several rounds of sanctions that have hampered the activities of their diplomatic missions, but reaffirmed its strong opposition to any U.S. military presence in Central Asia.

The Russian proposal was made during talks between Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov. Nuland arrived in Moscow on Monday for a three-day visit for talks that the U.S. State Department said would touch on a range of bilateral, regional and global issues.

The U.S. Embassy tweeted Nuland's description of her meetings as "constructive" but didn't give any details.

Ryabkov said he and Nuland made no progress on normalizing the work of their diplomatic missions, which has been hampered by multiple round of sanctions, adding that the situation could exacerbate even further, according to the Interfax news agency.

The Russian Foreign Ministry reiterated Moscow's readiness to respond in kind to any unfriendly U.S. actions and called for rolling back a slew of sanctions and restrictions on diplomatic missions.

"Any hostile anti-Russian action won't be left unanswered, but Moscow doesn't want any further escalation," the ministry said. "We are offering to lift all the restrictions imposed by both parties over the past few years."

It warned that the continuation of the "confrontational" U.S. policy toward Russia would further worsen ties and suggested taking a "realistic approach on the basis of equality and taking mutual interests into account."

Russia agreed to take Nuland off its list of sanctioned U.S. officials to allow her visit, and the U.S. responded by issuing a visa to Konstantin Vorontsov, a Russian diplomat dealing with arms control issues, to let him attend this week's meeting at the United Nations, Ryabkov said, according to the RIA-Novosti news agency.

Ryabkov said after Tuesday's meeting with Nuland that they touched on arms control negotiations and the situation in Afghanistan, among other subjects.

Ryabkov told the Interfax news agency that he stressed that "the U.S. and its allies bear the main responsibility among foreign actors for normalizing life in Afghanistan, since their presence actually led to the current situation."

On other issues, Ryabkov said he expressed Moscow's concern about the AUKUS nuclear-powered submarine deal between the U.S., the U.K and Australia, in view of the international nuclear non-proliferation agreements.

The U.S. and its allies hoped to negotiate base agreements, overflight rights and increased intelligence-sharing with Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, which border Afghanistan or other ex-Soviet nations in Central Asia. But Russia, which has maintained close political, economic, security and military ties with the Central Asian countries, has bristled at any such U.S. presence.

During her visit, Nuland is also to hold talks with Kremlin deputy chief of staff Dmitry Kozak.

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