MOSCOW, December 3. /TASS/. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is not expected to visit Greece before the end of the year but he does have an invitation to make a visit to the country, Russian Ambassador to Greece Andrei Maslov said in an interview with TASS.

“Sergey Viktorovich [Lavrov] does have an invitation to visit Greece,” he said, adding that “no dates for such a visit are under consideration, however.”

The ambassador also pointed out that Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ visit to Moscow and a meeting of the Russian-Greek intergovernmental commission were scheduled to be held before the end of 2018.

The ambassador was confident that during the Greek prime minister’s December 7 visit, the two countries’ leaders “will outline a vast cooperation program and hand down instructions, which will make it possible to determine the 2019 schedule of meetings.”

Lavrov was expected to visit Greece in September 2018. However, on July 11, the Greek Kathimerini daily reported, citing diplomatic sources, that Athens had decided to expel two Russian diplomats and ban another two from entering the country. According to the daily, Athens accused the diplomats of interfering in the country’s domestic affairs and undermining the national security of Greece. However, the same sources said that Greece was still willing to maintain good relations with Russia, facilitate friendship between the two countries’ people, as well as cooperation between the two governments. Greek Government Spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos later confirmed the expulsion of Russian diplomats.

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, in turn, said that the move would not positively affect bilateral relations, spurring a tit-for-tat response. On August 6, the Russian Foreign Ministry summoned Greek Ambassador Andreas Friganas to hand him a note on retaliatory measures. On July 19, Maslov said that it was pointless for the Russian top diplomat to visit Greece according to the earlier schedule given the circumstances.

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