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The Latest: US may resume some visa work at Russia outposts

A view of the U.S. consulate in St. Petersburg, Russia, Friday, Sept. 1, 2017. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says Moscow has yet to study the United States' decision to shut its consulate in San Francisco before considering possible retaliation. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

MOSCOW (AP) — The Latest on a diplomatic spat between the United States and Russia (all times local):

8:50 p.m.

The United States says it may resume conducting limited interviews at its three Russia consulates for people seeking U.S. visas.

The U.S. had temporarily suspended non-immigrant visa processing in Russia after Moscow ordered it to cut its diplomatic staff to 455. The U.S. said it had to let go of consular officials who process visas to comply.

At the time, the U.S. also said it would start doing visa interviews only at the Embassy in Moscow and no longer at the consulates in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok.

But a diplomatic cable sent to U.S. overseas posts and obtained by The Associated Press said “limited visa services” are resuming Friday.

The cable says the State Department will assess its new, smaller operation to determine whether it can resume some interviews at the consulates.

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1:40 p.m.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says Moscow will prepare a “tough response” to the United States’ decision to shut its consulate in San Francisco.

The U.S. on Thursday ordered Russia to shut its San Francisco consulate and close offices in Washington and New York within 48 hours in response to Russia’s decision last month to cut U.S. diplomatic staff in Russia.

Speaking to students at Russia’s top diplomacy school on Friday Lavrov said Moscow “will have a tough response to the things that come totally out of the blue to hurt us and are driven solely by the desire to spoil our relations with the United States.”

Earlier in the day, he said Moscow has yet to study the U.S. decision that came in late at night on Thursday to decide how to react.

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11:15 a.m.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says Moscow still has to study the United States’ decision to shut its consulate in San Francisco before considering any possible retaliation.

The U.S. move, announced on Thursday in Washington, came in reaction to Russia’s decision to make the United States cut its number of diplomatic staff in Russia.

Speaking at Russia’s top diplomacy school on Friday, Lavrov said Moscow would react to the decision once it has finished analyzing it.

Lavrov defended Russia’s decision to cut U.S. diplomatic staff as reciprocal reaction to the U.S. expelling Russian diplomats last December.

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1:15 a.m.

Escalating a diplomatic tit-for-tat, the United States abruptly ordered Russia on Thursday to shutter its San Francisco consulate and close offices in Washington and New York, intensifying tensions between the former Cold War foes. Washington gave Moscow 48 hours to comply.

The Trump administration described its action as retaliation for the Kremlin’s “unwarranted and detrimental” demand in August that the U.S. cut its diplomatic staff in Russia.

The closures on both U.S. coasts marked perhaps the most drastic diplomatic measure by the United States against Russia since 1986, near the end of the Cold War, when the nuclear-armed powers expelled dozens of each other’s diplomats.

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