State Department Orders Russia to Shutter San Francisco Consulate

The US said the closures needed to be completed by Saturday

On behalf of the State Department, Nauert expressed hope that "having moved toward the Russian Federation's desire for parity, we can avoid further retaliatory actions by both sides".

While the US has ordered the closure of diplomatic facilities, the State Department is not seeking to expel any Russian diplomats at this time, according to the official.

"I think history will dispel these untruths in due time and America will begin to turn towards greater normalcy in relations with Russia", Kislyak said in an interview with Russian outlet TASS shortly before his departure.

This is considered to be a response to the Kremlin's decision to shrink the US diplomatic mission in Russian Federation. Additionally, the United States will not force Russia to reduce the size of its staff in the country and will allow them to operate in other US -based Russian consular offices, a senior administration official told reporters in a conference call Thursday.

The move comes in response to the Kremlin's decision last July to order the US to reduce by 755 the number of diplomats and diplomatic personnel working at the US Embassy in Moscow and at its consulates in St. Petersburg and other cities. The Russian Consulate General in San Francisco will officially close its doors for visitors on September 1, and will continue issuing ready passports until Friday afternoon, the consulate said on its website on Thursday. While the diplomatic facilities are being closed, a senior administration official says the United States is not expelling any diplomats and those individuals can be reassigned by Russian Federation.

The order stipulates that Russia's San Fransisco consulate be closed, and operations scaled back in annexes in Washington D.C. and NY, the Associated Press reports.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson informed Russia's foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, of the tit-for-tat move in a phone call Thursday morning.

The move represents not-so-warm a welcome for Anatoly Antonov, Russia's new ambassador to the United States, who just arrived in Washington after being officially appointed by Russian President Vladimir Putin on August 21. The pair will meet in September in NY.

Mr Tillerson and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov have frequently exchanged sharp words. It says Moscow will react after studying the USA decision.

Moscow forced the cut in American diplomatic staff earlier this year in retaliation for US sanctions.

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