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Russia Proposes Moving U.N. Meetings to Europe 

Protesting U.S. visa delays for United Nations-based Russian diplomats, Moscow says some U.N. meetings should be held in Geneva or Vienna. 

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Russia struck back this month at the United States for rejecting, or delaying, visas for Russian diplomats and United Nations civil servants seeking to travel to New York to engage in U.N. work.

Russian diplomats introduced a U.N. General Assembly resolution—which we are highlighting as our Document of the Week—that calls for moving deliberations of the assembly’s disarmament committee next year to U.N. facilities in Geneva or Vienna if the United States doesn’t process visa requests more quickly.

Russia has only secured a handful of cosponsors—Angola, Burundi, Nicaragua, and Syria. And the Thursday vote on the resolution failed spectacularly, with Moscow securing only 17 votes in favor, and 66 voting to kill the measure. But the move signaled Russia’s intent to keep pressing the issue at the United Nations, where U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres has expressed growing frustration over U.S. visa policy. Next week, Russia intends to put a separate resolution to a vote in the General Assembly’s legal committee.

Russia has accused the State Department of failing to process 18 visas for Russian officials participating in this year’s General Assembly session, according to a recently published 164-page report of the U.N. host committee that deals with U.S. relations with the U.N.’s other 192 member states. In early October, Russia, backed by Iran and others, delayed the opening of two U.N. committees dealing with disarmament and legal affairs to protest the lack of visas. The United States maintains that it takes all visa requests by U.N.-based diplomats seriously but that visa records are confidential and it cannot therefore discuss individual visa cases. But a U.S. official told the host committee that Washington approved 160 visas to Russia to attend the General Assembly session.

Colum Lynch is a senior staff writer at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @columlynch

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