US May Return Seized Russian Dachas If Syrian Cease-Fire Holds: Trump Aide

Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets via AP

Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets via AP

New President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin last week discussed the two diplomatic compounds but did not reach an agreement. "The fact is we may not share the same philosophy, we may not share the same type of statesman view of the world, but the fact is there are some issues of common concern", Gorka told CNN's Jake Tapper, when asked why the Trump administration would consider handing the diplomatic compounds back".

The White House aide explained that the administration is not "looking to create new enemies" and that they would "like to have better relations with Russian Federation".

An administration official will be meeting next week with a Russian diplomat, and there are understandable fears that the Putin-friendly White House will return the compounds.

"We strongly urge the State Department not to return the diplomatic compounds in Maryland and NY to the Government of the Russian Federation at this time", they wrote. He noted that the return of the compounds in NY and Maryland would not be unconditional.

"We believe that there is a need to make efforts to maintain the fragile processes of stabilizing the military and political situation in Syria, as well as to create conditions for restoring peace and eliminating the threats that terror groups pose", Zakharova stressed.

Moscow, which also had 35 of its diplomats expelled with only 72 hours' notice to leave the country, now says that its patience is wearing thin.

While Lavrov did not specify what Russia's response would be, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov noted that if Washington continues to drag its feet on the issue, there will be a "tough response". Days later, the U.S. intelligence community issued a report accusing Russian Federation of specific actions to influence the election to bolster President Donald Trump's candidacy and hurt the Clinton campaign.

"These properties were seized because 17 US intelligence agencies confirmed that Russia used covert cyberattacks, espionage, and harmful propaganda to try and undermine our democracy, in addition to the fact that USA diplomats in Russia faced repeated harassment from Russian security services", the senators wrote in a letter to President Trump.

"Those compounds, particularly the one in Maryland, was a major intelligence operation, collecting intelligence against us".

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