2 Aug 2022 10:57

U.S. wants to hold 'good-faith' talks with Russia on prisoner exchange - White House

WASHINGTON. Aug 2 (Interfax) - Washington has received a reply from Moscow to the proposal on exchanging Russian citizen Viktor Bout for U.S. citizens Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan, but is skeptical about it, White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre said at a press briefing on Monday.

"Look, as you know, we want to see Brittney Griner home. We want to see Paul Whelan home. They are wrongfully detained. We put forward a substantial offer [to Russia]. And we - you know, we want to have a good-faith conversation on that. [...] There was a counteroffer that was made, which we don't see it as a serious counteroffer," Jean-Pierre said.

U.S. National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said earlier he believes that Russia has not taken the U.S. initiative seriously enough.

CNN said on July 27, citing sources familiar with the situation, that U.S. President Joe Biden has approved the idea put forth by officials from his administration to try to exchange Viktor Bout, imprisoned in the U.S., for Paul Whelan and U.S. basketball player Brittney Griner.

Russian presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov, in turn, said that there are currently no agreements between Russia and the U.S. on exchanging Bout for Whelan and Griner.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, for his part, said last week that the U.S. "put a substantial proposal on the table" regarding the release of Griner and Whelan, but did not offer any details. Blinken discussed a possible deal for the release of Griner and Whelan with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov over the phone on July 29.