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U.S. Quits Joint Panel With Russia On Civil Society

Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov
The United States is withdrawing from a panel set up to promote civil society under a U.S.-Russia presidential commission.

In a statement issued on January 25, Thomas Melia, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, said the panel is no longer an effective or appropriate forum, given the Russian government's crackdown on civil society organizations.

He added that Washington would continue voicing its concerns about "new laws that restrict the work of civil society."

Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the U.S. move was "regrettable."

The Russian Foreign Ministry said it had not been formally notified of the withdrawal.

The U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission was set up in 2009 as part of the so-called "reset" in relations.

Based on reporting by and