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U.S. says Russia's expulsion of USAID "regrettable"

(Xinhua)

10:21, September 20, 2012

WASHINGTON, Sept. 19 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. State Department said on Wednesday that Moscow's decision to end the USAID activities in Russia was "regrettable".

"It is regrettable that Russia has taken this decision," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters at a regular briefing.

Russia confirmed Wednesday that the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the primary U.S. official aid agency, will leave the country as of Oct. 1. Moscow accused the agency of trying to influence Russia's domestic political affairs.

"This decision (to shut down USAID) is made due to attempts of the agency to influence political processes, civil society institutions, and elections at various levels, through distribution of grants," Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said on Wednesday.

Lukashevich cited "serious questions" that arose from USAID activities in Russia, "especially in the North Caucasus."

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