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U.S. Ambassador Cancels Russian Far East Trip As Local Officials Decline Meetings

U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman
U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman

U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman has canceled a trip to Russia's Far East after local officials "were uniformly unable to find time" to meet with him, the U.S. Embassy said.

The embassy's December 1 statement said Huntsman would not be traveling to Vladivostok and Sakhalin Island after the local governors, the mayor of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, and other officials declined requests for meetings.

Huntsman also canceled a request to "engage during the visit with the [Russian] Pacific Fleet commander on security issues of mutual interest in the Pacific region."

Huntsman met successfully with officials last month during trips to Yekaterinburg and St. Petersburg and has held "productive" meetings with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, and other officials in Moscow, the embassy said.

The cancellation of Huntsman's trip comes amid a spike in U.S.-Russian tensions over issues including Russia's involvement in the conflict in Ukraine and its alleged meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, and a U.S. requirement that Russia's RT state-controlled television channel register in the United States as a "foreign agent."

The U.S. Embassy statement said Huntsman "is committed to establishing...dialogue whenever the Russian side is willing to come to the table."

Russian President Vladimir Putin and other officials have repeatedly blamed the United States for the tension in ties and said that Moscow is ready for closer cooperation.

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