Russia says ready to discuss prisoner exchange with US

ANKARA: Russia is ready to discuss prisoner exchange with the US, but it should be at the level of presidents, the country’s foreign minister said on Friday.

“If the Americans again decide to engage in public diplomacy … that’s their business and their problem,” Sergey Lavrov said a day after a Moscow court sentenced WNBA player Brittney Griner to nine years in prison.

Lavrov’s remarks came following the foreign ministers’ meeting of the East Asia Summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Separately, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the channel through which Russia and the US can hold discussions, including the prisoner swap, was agreed on by Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden during a meeting in Geneva.

On Thursday, the Khimki City Court in Moscow region sentenced American basketball player on charges of drug possession and smuggling. The court also imposed a fine of 1 million rubles ($16,600) on the WNBA star.

Griner, 31, was arrested in February at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport after authorities said they found cannabis oil in her possession.

She pleaded guilty in July to drug charges, but has maintained she used medicinal cannabis to treat pain and denied intending to violate Russian law. The US earlier offered a swap deal that includes Griner and Paul Whelan, who has been held in Russia since 2018 on espionage charges.




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