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Russia 'alarmed' at no US visas to attend UN conference

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attends a joint news conference with Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian in Moscow, Russia August 31, 2022. (Photo by Reuters)

The US has not issued entry visas for any member of the 56-member Russian advance team and delegation less than three weeks before the annual meeting of world leaders at the UN General Assembly.

"None of the 56 Russian representatives from the main team and advance group have received entry visas to the United States" as of Thursday, said Russian ambassador to the UN, Vasily Nebenzia. 

“This is even more alarming since for the last several months the authorities of the United States have been constantly refusing to grant entry visas to a number of Russian delegates assigned to take part in the official United Nations events,” Nebenzia said in a letter addressed to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

Nebenzia also said that a "similar situation exists with the accompanying journalists and crew members" on the flight of Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

He asked Guterres to "once again emphasize to the authorities of the United States that they must promptly issue requested visas for all Russian delegates and accompanying persons, including Russian journalists."

"Visa issuance is the legal duty of the Host country, not a right or a privilege."

According to a 1947 agreement, the United States is not allowed to prevent representatives of member states from traveling to the UN headquarters in New York.

“Visas shall be granted without charge and as promptly as possible” and that this “shall be applicable irrespective of the relations existing between the governments of the persons referred to … and the government of the United States.” Nebenzia quoted from the 1947 agreement between the United Nations and the United States

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

"We proactively engage with the US Mission on visas ... and liaise with the Mission on specific cases that are brought to our attention. We are doing so in this case," Kaneko said.

The relationships between the United States and Russia have worsened since Moscow began a military operation in Ukraine in February.

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