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The United States will “pursue” a prisoner swap with Russia for American citizens Brittany Griner and Paul Whelan, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said Friday morning in Cambodia.

Blinken’s comments came when he was asked about Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s comments about a possible prisoner swap at a meeting of foreign ministers in Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN.

“As you know, we have put forward a concrete proposal that Russia should engage with us. And what Foreign Minister Lavrov said this morning and said publicly is that they are ready to engage through the channels that we have established to do that, and we will follow up. Will do,” Blinken told a press conference at ASEAN.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken attends a press conference after attending events at the 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Phnom Penh on August 5, 2022.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken attends a press conference after attending events at the 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Phnom Penh on August 5, 2022.
(via Tang Chin Sothi/AFP Getty Images)

The announcement came a day after a Russian court sentenced WNBA star Brittany Griner to nine years in prison for possession of marijuana.

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Blinken was asked to respond to Lavrov, who said he did not expect to hear from Blinken but was surprised when Blinken did not get in touch.

“In regards to Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan, just a few things on that. I think first of all we’ve all seen that Brittney Griner has been sentenced to nine years in prison and that just adds to the injustice of her and her arrest,” Blinken said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (C) and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (R) attend the East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers' Meeting during the 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Phnom Penh on August 5, 2022.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (C) and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (R) attend the East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers’ Meeting during the 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Phnom Penh on August 5, 2022.
(Andrew Harnick/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

He added: “This highlights our very important concerns about the Russian legal system and the Russian government’s use of individuals as political pawns, using wrongful arrests to further its own agenda. The same is true of Paul Whelan.”

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Earlier in the day, Lavrov said Russia was “ready to discuss” the prisoner trade through diplomatic channels as a private framework had previously been “agreed upon” by Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Biden.

Lavrov said that Russia is “ready to discuss this issue, but within the framework of the channels agreed by the president.”

“If the Americans decide to resort to public diplomacy again … that’s their business, and I would even say it’s their problem,” Lavrov said at ASEAN.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov speaks during a news conference Monday, June 6, 2022, in Moscow, Russia.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov speaks during a news conference Monday, June 6, 2022, in Moscow, Russia.
(Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service via AP)

“In the case of persons convicted in Russia and the United States … there is a specific channel that the president has agreed on,” Lavrov added during a press conference. “No matter what anyone says publicly, this channel will remain effective.”

Russia has previously warned the US not to engage in “megaphone diplomacy” as it could derail ongoing negotiations.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken looks on at the East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers' Meeting during the 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Phnom Penh on August 5, 2022.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken looks on at the East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers’ Meeting during the 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Phnom Penh on August 5, 2022.
(via Tang Chin Sothi/AFP Getty Images)

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President Biden issued a statement condemning Griner’s arrest, calling the prison sentence “unacceptable.”

“I call on Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends and colleagues,” President Biden said. “My administration will continue to work tirelessly and pursue every possible avenue to bring [her] Get home safely as soon as possible.”