Diplomatic Briefing

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Newsline: U.S., Russian top diplomats speak

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he spoke to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov by phone Friday and urged Moscow to accept a U.S. offer to release two Americans detained in Russia, including WNBA star Brittney Griner. Blinken did not provide details of Lavrov’s response to what he had previously called a “substantial proposal” for Russia to release two U.S. citizens in Griner and Paul Whelan. Blinken described the call as a “frank and direct conversation” centered primarily on the proposal for the release of the Americans. “I urged Foreign Minister Lavrov to move forward with that proposal,” Blinken said. “I can’t give you an assessment of whether that is any more or less likely.” (https://www.espn.com/wnba/story/_/id/34312875/us-secretary-state-antony-blinken-discusses-brittney-griner-offer-top-russian-diplomat) The secretary of state had publicly requested the call and revealed the existence of the offer to Russia — which according to multiple reports involves convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout. Blinken declined to comment on how Lavrov replied to his messages, saying, “I don’t want to characterize any of Foreign Minister Lavrov’s responses.” Lavrov had said earlier Friday that he was open to a call with Blinken to discuss the prisoner exchange, even though the Foreign Ministry hadn’t been involved in previous discussions on the issue. Friday marked the first conversation between Blinken and Lavrov since Feb. 15.

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