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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday that Russia was ready to discuss the prisoner exchange with the United States through diplomatic channels agreed between the two countries, according to Russian state news agency RIA Novosti.

“The question about people convicted in Russia and the United States… [Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Joe Biden]no matter what anyone says publicly, this channel will continue to work,” Lavrov reportedly told a news conference in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh on Friday.

“We are ready to discuss the topic, but within the framework of the channels agreed to by the president,” Lavrov added.

His comments came a day after USA women’s basketball star Brittney Greener was convicted of knowingly smuggling drugs into Russia and sentenced to nine years in prison, a case that has sparked concerns that she was used as a weapon in the Russia-Ukraine war of political pawns.

During the trial, Griner pleaded guilty on February 17 to carrying less than 1 gram of cannabis oil in his luggage while traveling at Moscow airport. She testified in court that she was aware of Russia’s strict drug laws and had no intention of carrying marijuana. Coming into the country, said she was in a hurry and “stress packed”.

Before the sentencing, Griner apologized to the court and asked for clemency in an emotional speech.

“I never intended to hurt anyone, I never intended to put the Russian people at risk, I never intended to break any laws here,” Greener said.

“I made an honest mistake and I hope your ruling doesn’t end my life here. I know everyone is talking about political pawns and politics, but I hope that stays out of this courtroom.”

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