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UNITED NATIONS: Russia has expressed “alarm” to the UN’s secretary-general that the US has yet to issue visas for its delegation to attend a General Assembly session later this month, according to a letter seen Friday by AFP.

“None of the 56 Russian representatives from the main team and advance group have received entry visas to the United States” as of Thursday, wrote Russian Ambassador Vasily Nebenzia in a letter addressed to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

Nebenzia added that a “similar situation exists with the accompanying journalists and crew members” on the flight of Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

Lavrov is set to lead Russia’s delegation to the UN General Assembly from September 20 to 26.

“This is even more alarming since for the last several months the authorities of the United States have been constantly refusing to grant entry visas to a number of Russian delegates assigned to take part in the official United Nations events,” added Nebenzia.

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“Visa issuance is the legal duty of the Host country, not a right or a privilege.”

According to a 1947 agreement, the United States is not allowed to prevent representatives of member states from traveling to the UN headquarters in New York.

After Russia invaded Ukraine in February, the United States announced sanctions against Russian President Vladimir Putin and Lavrov, which included a ban on entering the country.

“The United States takes seriously its obligations as host country of the UN,” a State Department spokesperson told AFP in a statement, adding that he would not comment on individual cases as “visa records are confidential under US law.”

“To ensure timely processing, we repeatedly remind the Russian mission to the UN, as we do all other UN missions, that the United States needs applications as early as possible,” the spokesperson said, blaming the long visa delays on Moscow’s “forced termination of local and third country national staff” at the US embassy in Russia.

A spokeswoman for UN chief Guterres told AFP that he was “in close contact” with the United States regarding the rules under the 1947 agreement.

“We proactively engage with the US mission on visas for delegations to upcoming UN meetings at headquarters and liaise with the mission on specific cases that are brought to our attention,” she said.

“We are doing so in this case.”

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