18 Oct 2017 18:38

GlavUpDK not planning to review contract with U.S. on Spaso House lease - agency chief to Interfax

MOSCOW. Oct 18 (Interfax) - The Russian Foreign Ministry's hospitality company GlavUpDK (Main Production-Commercial Directorate) is not planning to review its lease with the United States on the ambassador's Spaso House residence; the response to the U.S. acting in an unfriendly way toward Russia's diplomatic property can be "both symmetric and asymmetric."

The U.S. ambassador's Moscow residence is on the GlavUpDK balance sheet, the agency's chief Alexei Izotov confirmed in an interview with Interfax.

"You see, even our name speaks for itself: the Main Production-Commercial Directorate. In other words, it is commerce that matters to us. For us, politics is an important, but not a defining factor. If we have difficult relations with a country, that does not mean we will stop them from renting something from us," Izotov told Interfax when asked whether GlavUpDK had been told to review its contract with the U.S., given various U.S. agencies' behavior with respect to Russian diplomatic property, in particular in San Francisco and Washington.

"Imagine if tomorrow restaurants refuse to serve Americans. Is that possible? Of course not. If an American comes to a restaurant, pays money, for God's sake, let him sit down and eat. We have the same approach," Izotov said, noting that the cost of renting Spaso House was a "commercial secret."

As for proposals to seize Spaso House from the U.S., Izotov said: "It doesn't hurt to repeat that the reciprocity principle is the cornerstone of diplomacy, so Russia is considering various options on how to respond to Washington's unfriendly steps. The retaliatory measures could be both symmetric and asymmetric."

The GlavUpDK chief recalled the Foreign Ministry's official statement of October 2, 2017: "It suggests that the Russian side is reserving, under the principle of reciprocity, the right to retaliate and sees the Americans' actions as, in effect, consent to the possibility that their [diplomatic] missions in Russia will be treated analogously."