US Ambassador To Russia Was Asked To Explain His Absence From The Ceremony Of Handing In Credentials To Russian President

During a Wednesday business meeting in the House of the Russian Government, Russian Vice Premier Valentina Matviyenko asked US Ambassador to Russia Alexander Vershbow to explain his absence from the August 27th ceremony of handing in credential letters to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Answering Matviyenko's question, Vershbow said he had been absent because of "family affairs." One of his two sons was taking entrance exams at a US university, he explained. According to electronic media reports, Vershbow had handed in copies of his credential letters at the Russian foreign ministry in late July. Nevertheless, he hadn't turned up at the Kremlin for the August 27th official ceremony. In the meantime, Moscow-based diplomatic experts say a meeting between an ambassador and a country leader with the purpose of handing in credentials is universally recognized as the ambassador's first /and sometimes last/ official contact with the head of state. This fact accounts for the thoroughness of the procedure, every detail of which must be strictly observed in accordance with the diplomatic protocol. Besides, according to experts, a brief conversation with the country leader serves as a good basis for the ambassador's future work in the country. In the United States, a newly appointed ambassador is expected to refrain from official meetings with US officials or members of the diplomatic corps until he hands in his credentials to the president, said a source in the Russian foreign ministry's Diplomatic Academy.

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