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Russia has acknowledged Washington's request for a call between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, State Department's spokesperson Ned Price said during his daily briefing on Thursday, adding that Washington was "still expecting" the call to happen in the coming days.

"We do expect to speak with Foreign Minister Lavrov... We put in a call request yesterday before you heard from the Secretary", Price said in response to TURAN's questions. "It remains our expectation that the two will have an opportunity to speak, but I don’t have any updates to add at this point in terms of specific timing," he added.

Blinken is aiming to use the planned call to press Lavrov to respond to the "substantial offer" that Washington has put forward to Moscow to secure the release of American citizens Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan, both of whom are held unjustly in Russia.

Price noted that the deal has been conveyed to Russia “repeatedly” and “directly” over the course of several weeks, suggesting that Moscow "has not meaningfully engaged" on the proposal.

Asked by TURAN whether a potential call to Moscow might embolden Russian actions in Ukraine, Price said, that's part of the reason why Secretary Blinken felt it important to be very clear about what a call with Lavrov would entail "and, just as importantly in some respects, what it wouldn’t entail."

The spokesperson reminded that "this would not be a return to business as usual."

"That is for Ukraine to take up with Russia. And our Ukrainian partners have made very clear that they are ready and they are fully cognizant that Russia’s aggression against Ukraine will end, must end, through dialogue and diplomacy. At the same time, we haven’t seen any indications from Russia that it is currently, presently interested in engaging in constructive dialogue and diplomacy," he added.

Washington will continue to support Ukraine "until Russia is ready to engage with them diplomatically, constructively through dialogue," Price said.

"You heard from the Secretary yesterday about the massive levels of support to strengthen Ukraine’s hand on the battlefield, evidence of which we’re – we continue to see every day, and ultimately to strengthen Ukraine’s hand at any negotiating table that emerges," he added.

Alex Raufoglu

Washington D.C.

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