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Russia's Lavrov Says Moscow Ready To Talk Prisoner Swap With U.

Viktor Bout (left), Paul Whelan, and Brittney Griner (combo photo)

Viktor Bout (left), Paul Whelan, and Brittney Griner (combo photo)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on August 5 that Moscow is ready to discuss prisoner exchanges with Washington through an existing diplomatic channel.

Lavrov spoke a day after a Russian court found U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner guilty of drugs smuggling and sentenced her to nine years in prison, a punishment that sparked anger from teammates and athletes around the world and that U.S. President Joe Biden called "unacceptable."

"We are ready to discuss this topic, but within the framework of the channel that was agreed upon by Presidents [Vladimir] Putin and Biden," Lavrov told a news conference on the sidelines of an ASEAN meeting in Cambodia on August 5.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Lavrov spoke by phone on July 29 to discuss a swap proposal, which Blinken said involved Griner and former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan.

Whelan, a corporate security executive, was sentenced to 16 years in prison on espionage charges in 2020. He denies the charges.

News reports quoting U.S. sources have said the Russian who would be swapped for the two Americans would be jailed arms dealer Viktor Bout.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AFP, and TASS

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