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U.S. Asks For More Time To Close Down Aid Operations In Russia

The United States says it has asked Russia for more time to end the U.S. Agency for International Development's (USAID) work in the country.

Russian authorities have given the United States until October 1 to close USAID’s operations in Russia, accusing the organization of seeking to influence Russian elections through its grants.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said on September 20 that the United States promised Russia "there will be no new contracting, no new programming, as of October 1.

But Nuland added that Washington had also "asked for some time to wind down the mission, to conclude the programs that we have underway."

However, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said Moscow stood by its position that "a decision has been taken and this decision of a sovereign state must be carried out."

Lukashevich said Moscow regretted the decision had caused a scandal, but added that Washington was informed well in advance of the move.

"In principle," he said, "everyone understood and knew about this problem."

Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP