The Latest: Russia open to normalizing ties with West

The Latest: Russia open to normalizing ties with West
The U.S. flag flies at the U.S. consulate in St. Petersburg, Russia, Friday, March 30, 2018. The U.S. flag is flown at half-mast to mourn victims of Kemerovo fire killing 64 people. Russia announced the expulsion of more than 150 diplomats, including 60 Americans, on Thursday and said it was closing a U.S. consulate in retaliation for the wave of Western expulsions of Russian diplomats over the poisoning of an ex-spy and his daughter in Britain, a tit-for-tat response that intensified the Kremlin's rupture with the United States and Europe. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) — The Latest on the fallout from the Russian ex-spy poisoning (all times local):

1:30 p.m.

The Kremlin says it remains open to normalizing ties with the U.S. and other nations despite Moscow’s quid pro quo response to their expulsion of Russian diplomats over the poisoning of a Russian ex-spy in Britain.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Friday that Moscow was forced to retaliate after the expulsion of more than 150 Russian diplomats by two dozen countries, including the U.S. and many EU nations, and NATO. Peskov said that “Russia remains open for developing good ties.”

Moscow said it would expel the same number of diplomats from each country that ordered Russian diplomats out. It summoned the U.S. ambassador to announce the closure of the American consulate in St. Petersburg and the expulsion of 60 U.S. diplomats in a tit-for-tat response to Washington’s moves.

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12:35 p.m.

U.S. Consulate staff in St. Petersburg, Russia’s second-largest city, are preparing to wind up operations after the Russian government ordered the consulate’s closure.

Russia on Thursday announced the expulsion of more than 150 diplomats, including 60 Americans, in response to mass expulsions of Russian diplomats by Western countries over the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter in Britain.

Russia also ordered the closure of the U.S. consulate in St. Petersburg.

An Associated Press reporter on Friday saw consulate staff carrying boxes from the building and loading them into a van. Several mini-vans drove out of the consulate while security also detained a man who threw a paper coffee cup at the building.