Russia confirmed on Thursday for the first time that negotiations between Washington and Moscow on a prisoner exchange are underway, following numerous starts and stops over the US proposed deal to release WNBA star Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan.
The Washington Post reported the Russian Foreign Ministry said talks are going forward via a channel set up by Presidents Biden and Vladimir Putin when they met in Geneva in June 2021.
“Instructions were given to authorized structures to carry out negotiations. They are being conducted by competent authorities,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ivan Nechayev told journalists in Moscow Thursday, reported Tass.
He added that negotiations about an exchange began after Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov confirmed last week that Russia was willing to talk.
Nechayev also urged reporters and the public “not to speculate on the sensitive issue affecting specific individuals.”
“We would recommend abandoning futile attempts to put pressure on us and we are calling on them to concentrate on practical work along the available channels,” Nechayev said, according to Tass. “We proceed from the fact that the negotiations should take the interests of both sides into account.”
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