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Kremlin says Brittney Griner swap must be discussed without publicity

MOSCOW - The Kremlin said Friday that it’s open to talking about a possible prisoner exchange involving American basketball star Brittney Griner but strongly warned Washington against publicizing the issue.Griner, a two-time U.S. Olympic champion and an eight-time all-star with the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, has been detained in Russia since Feb. 17 after police at a Moscow airport said they found vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage.A judge convicted the 31-year-old athlete Thursday of drug possession and smuggling, and sentenced her to nine years in prison.

The politically charged case comes amid high tensions between Moscow and Washington over Russia’s military action in Ukraine.Asked at the White House Friday about the prospects of securing Griner’s release, President Joe Biden said: "I’m hopeful ... We’re working hard."MORE: Biden tells Brittney Griner's wife he's working to get her homeIn an extraordinary move, U.S.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke last week to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, urging him to accept a deal under which Griner and Paul Whelan, an American jailed in Russia on espionage charges, would go free.Lavrov and Blinken were both in Cambodia on Friday for a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Blinken did not even glance at his Russian counterpart as they took their seats at an East Asia Summit.Lavrov told reporters that Blinken didn’t try to contact him while they were attending the ASEAN meeting."We were separated by just one person at the discussion table, but I didn’t feel his desire to catch me.

stars Mercury reports

Joe Biden Sergey Lavrov Brittney Griner Antony Blinken

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