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Russian official confirms names discussed in prisoner swap talks

The director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s North American Department has addressed the names being discussed in the potential prisoner swap talks between Moscow and Washington.

Talking to Russian state media TASS on Saturday, Alexander Darchiev said Viktor Bout, a convicted Russian arms trafficker serving a 25-year US prison sentence, and US citizens Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan imprisoned in Russia, were all part of the conversation.

TASS said Darchiev was responding to a request to comment on US media reports that US officials had sent a proposal to Moscow on swapping Bout for Griner and Whelan.

Darchiev confirmed the names had been mentioned in bilateral talks, according to TASS.

“This quite sensitive issue of the swap of convicted Russian and US citizens is being discussed through the channels defined by our presidents. These individuals are, indeed, being discussed. The Russian side has long been seeking the release of Viktor Bout. The details should be left to professionals, proceeding from the ‘do not harm’ principle,’” Darchiev said to TASS.

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