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Oct 12, 5:16 PM EDT

Russia objects to flag removal at shut diplomatic buildings


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MOSCOW (AP) -- Russia's foreign minister has told U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that the removal of the Russian flag from closed diplomatic facilities is unacceptable.

The Russian Foreign Ministry says Sergey Lavrov also told Tillerson in a Thursday telephone call that Russia is preparing legal steps to regain the buildings. The flags were taken down on Wednesday.

The United States ordered the Russian consulate in San Francisco and mission buildings in Washington and New York shut last month.

The closures came in a dispute that also saw Moscow ordering Washington to reduce its diplomatic staffing in Russia.

In response to Lavrov's objection, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said: "There's no country in the world that pays greater respect to its own flag, and to the flags of other nations."

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