Washington (US), August 6: The United States considers Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's words about Russia being ready to discuss a potential prisoner swap welcome news and hopes that Moscow is serious about this, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said on Friday.
"Lavrov said publicly that they're interested in exploring a path forward here and that's welcome news. We hope that they're [Russia] actually serious about it this time, and that we can move forward to finding way to get Paul [Whelan] and Brittney [Griner] home," Kirby said during a press briefing.
Kirby noted that he is unaware of any additional conversations or discussions between US and Russian officials regarding the prisoner swap deal since this morning.
Earlier in the day, minister Lavrov said that there is a special channel, which is agreed upon by the Russian and US presidents, Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden, respectively, and this channel remains relevant with respect to the exchange of prisoners' discussion.
The channel in question is the one that was negotiated during the meeting of the leaders of Russia and the United States last July in Geneva, according to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
In late July, US media reported that Washington offered to exchange imprisoned Russian citizen Viktor Bout for US basketball player Brittney Griner and former US marine Paul Whelan, detained in Russia. Russia is reportedly looking for a fairer deal that would involve adding another Russian national, Vadim Krasikov, in order to have a two-for-two prisoner exchange.
On Thursday, a Russian court sentenced Griner to nine years in jail on charges of smuggling and possessing cannabis oil in Russia and a fine of 1 million rubles ($16,576).