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Russia's expulsion of diplomats cheaper for US, Trump says

Europe
10.08.2017
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Washington (dpa) - US President Donald Trump on Thursday downplayed a move by Moscow to oust US diplomats and force the downsizing of the US mission in Russia, claiming it would save Washington money.

"I want to thank [Russian President Vladimir Putin] because we‘re trying to cut down our payroll," Trump told reporters at his Bedminster, New Jersey golf club, where he is taking a working vacation.

"As far as I‘m concerned I‘m very thankful that he let go of a large number of people because now we have a smaller payroll," he continued.

Putin said in an interview last month that the US must cut 755 personnel from its diplomatic institutions in Russia by September 1 after the US Congress overwhelming approved new sanctions on Moscow.

The forced cuts will likely have an outsized impact on locally hired Russian staff who work for the US.

According to a 2013 report by the US State Department, only about a quarter of the 1,200 staff members in US diplomatic institutions in Russia were US citizens.

In contrast, US diplomats who return to the United States will remain State Department employees.

Trump has planned large cuts to much of the US government budget, with a proposal he released earlier this year asking for a 28- per-cent slashing of funds for the State Department and US Agency for International Development.

Those cuts however are unlikely to go through as requested because Congress is tasked with budgetary issues.

It was unclear to what extent Trump may have been joking, but he has faced frequent questions about his willingness to confront Russia amid an ongoing investigation into possible collusion between Moscow and his presidential campaign.

 

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