Page last updated at 14:20 GMT, Thursday, 8 May 2008 15:20 UK

Russia 'expels US embassy staff'

US embassy administrative building in Moscow. File pic
The US has given no reason yet for the expulsion from the Moscow embassy

Russia has ordered the expulsion of two military attaches from the American embassy in Moscow, US officials say.

The US state department said it would comply with the order although it objected to it.

Two Russians have been expelled from Washington in recent months, one in November and the second on 22 April.

The news comes as Russia conducts a transition of power with Vladimir Putin becoming prime minister and Dmitry Medvedev president.

'Separate incidents'

The expulsion order was given some days ago but was only revealed by the state department on Thursday.

An official there confirmed to Reuters news agency the pair had been asked to leave but declined to say what reasons had been given for the expulsion.

It is not known whether the pair have left Moscow yet.

"They have not been declared persona non grata but they have been asked to leave," the official said.

Another US official said Washington regarded the expulsions as "separate incidents" from those of the Russian envoys.

The Russian foreign ministry said it had "no comment at the moment".

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