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Trump to sign bill for Russia sanctions

China Daily USA | Updated: 2017-07-31 10:13

WASHINGTON - US President Donald Trump has approved a bill that imposes additional sanctions on Russia and intends to sign it, the White House said on Friday.

Trump "read early drafts of the bill and negotiated regarding critical elements of it", the White House said in a statement.

"He has now reviewed the final version and, based on its responsiveness to his negotiations, approves the bill and intends to sign it," it added.

Earlier this week, the US House of Representatives and Senate overwhelmingly approved the bill that will slap tougher sanctions on Russia, Iran and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).

The bill will also grant the US Congress the power to block Trump from unilaterally lifting sanctions on Russia.

This bill came although Trump administration officials had called on lawmakers to grant "flexibility" to the White House in dealing with Russia.

Trump's approval of the bill came after Russia announced that it would scale down US diplomatic staff in Russia to 455 people and seize a US warehouse and a recreational compound known as a "dacha" in Moscow in retaliation for Washington's anti-Russian actions.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has personally authorized the Foreign Ministry statement, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Friday.

"We have received the Russian government notification. Ambassador (John) Tefft expressed his strong disappointment and protest. We have passed the notification back to Washington for review," the US Embassy in Russia said in a statement.

Russia will respond to US sanctions while still willing to normalize bilateral relations, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson by phone on Friday.

These moves were caused by a series of actions by Washington, including "unlawful" sanctions and "slanderous" accusations against Russia, said Lavrov, according to a statement of the Russian Foreign Ministry.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said on Friday that China has always proposed that countries should resolve disputes through negotiations. "We disapprove of easily taking unilateral sanctions," he told reporters at a daily news conference in Beijing.

In December 2016, 35 Russian diplomats were expelled and two retreats in New York and Maryland used by Russian diplomats for recreation and receptions were closed by the administration of outgoing US president Barack Obama over accusations of alleged Russian hacking during the presidential election.

"The Russian decision to reduce US diplomatic staff appears linked directly to the new congressional sanctions bill," Steven Pifer, senior fellow of Brookings Institution, told Xinhua.

Xinhua - Reuters

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