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MOSCOW: Russia said on Monday there would be no meeting between Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken at an OSCE meeting in North Macedonia this week.

Lavrov had said earlier he would join the foreign ministers of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which includes Canada and the United States, in Skopje if Bulgaria opened its air space for him. He said some Western countries had requested meetings with him.

Since President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian troops into Ukraine in February 2022, the West has sought to isolate Russia, and face-to-face meetings between senior ministers have been rare.

But in response to a question at the same Primakov Readings foreign policy forum, the TASS news agency quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov as saying Washington had not requested a meeting “and will not request one. And there will be no meeting”.

Blinken heads to rally Ukraine support, could cross paths with Lavrov

The meeting of the 57-member OSCE, which is intended to prevent conflict and security crises, takes place from Nov. 30 to Dec. 1.

“Apparently Bulgaria has promised Macedonia it will open its air space - if that happens then we will be there. Let’s see,” Lavrov said.

“There are already several requests for meetings - including from Western representatives,” Lavrov said, without naming any countries.

Foreign Minister Bujar Osmani said this month that North Macedonia’s neighbours had yet to make a final decision on overflight rules for the Russian delegation. A spokesperson for North Macedonia’s OSCE presidency did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

“Of course, we will meet with everyone,” Lavrov said. “If someone approaches us, we never run away or hide.”

Bulgarian air space is closed to Russian aircraft as part of European Union sanctions imposed in response to Russia’s intervention in Ukraine, which Moscow calls a “special military operation”.

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