Russia says there are no US visas yet for Lavrov’s visit to the United Nations

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attends a joint news conference with Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian in Moscow, Russia August 31, 2022. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/Pool

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UNITED NATIONS, Sept 2 (Reuters) – Russia has applied for 56 visas from the United States to allow Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his delegation to travel to New York for the annual gathering of world leaders at the United Nations this month, but so far haven’t received any.

In a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres seen by Reuters on Friday, Russia’s UN ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said it was “alarming” because over the past few months Washington had “constantly refused to grant entry visas” to a number of Russians. delegates for other UN events.

The United States takes its obligations as a UN host country seriously, a State Department spokesperson said, adding that visa records are confidential under US law and are not therefore could not comment on individual cases.

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Under the UN’s “Headquarters Agreement” of 1947, the United States is generally required to allow access to the United Nations to foreign diplomats. But Washington says it can deny visas for “security, terrorism and foreign policy” reasons.

Relations between the United States and Russia have been strained since Moscow invaded neighboring Ukraine in February.

“We process hundreds of visas each year for Russian Federation delegates to UN events,” the State Department spokesperson said, adding that applications should be submitted as soon as possible to ensure quick treatment.

“This is particularly important given Russia’s unwarranted actions against our embassy in Russia, including the forced dismissal of local national and third-country staff, which have significantly limited our staff and therefore our ability to process visas,” he said. said the spokesperson.

Nebenzia said the necessary applications have been submitted to the US Embassy in Moscow.

THE UN ENGAGED WITH US

The 56 visas requested by Moscow include an advance team of diplomats to prepare for the arrival of Lavrov and his delegation for the high-level meeting of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, which begins on September 20.

Nebenzia added that no US visas had yet been granted to journalists accompanying Lavrov and the flight crew.

He asked António Guterres to “stress once again to the United States authorities that they must promptly issue the requested visas for all Russian delegates and their companions, including Russian journalists”.

Guterres and other senior UN officials are in close contact with the United States and Russia over visas, UN spokesman Eri Kaneko said.

“We proactively engage with the US mission on visas … and liaise with the mission on specific cases that come to our attention. We do in this instance,” Kaneko said.

The United States has long prohibited Russian UN diplomats and visiting Russian delegations from traveling more than 40 km from New York without prior approval from Washington.

In February, Washington imposed sanctions on Lavrov, accusing him of being “directly responsible for Russia’s new unprovoked and illegal invasion of Ukraine”. The sanctions freeze any assets Lavrov may have in the United States and generally bar Americans from doing business with him.

Nebenzia cited some recent visa issues in his letter to António Guterres, saying Russian Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev was unable to travel to New York for a UN police chiefs summit this week.

He said Russian law enforcement officials were also unable to attend a UN event this week on tackling the use of information and communications technology in criminal purposes.

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Reporting by Michelle Nichols at the United Nations Additional reporting by Daphne Psaledakis in Washington Editing by Mary Milliken and Matthew Lewis

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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