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Georgia senator among lawmakers urging Trump not to return Russian compounds

Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) introduces Dr. Tom Price, Nominee for Secretary of U.D. Department of Health and Human Services at Senate Hearing / Isakson.senate.gov

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Georgia Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson is one of three senators to write a letter recently to President Donald Trump, asking him to reconsider returning two diplomatic compounds in the United States to Russia.

The compounds, located in New York and Maryland, were seized at the end of last year under the Obama administration as a result of Russia attempting to influence the election and the Kremlin's "continued harassment of U.S. personnel at our diplomatic missions in Russia," the letter states.

In May, the Trump administration told the Russian government that it would return the compounds if Russia would lift its freeze on construction of a new U.S. consulate in St. Petersburg.

Isakson, along with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), wrote in their letter to the president dated July 6 that the return of the compounds "would embolden President Vladimir Putin and invite a dangerous escalation in the Kremlin's destabilizing actions against democracies worldwide."

The letter was sent to the president on July 6 ahead of his trip to the G-20 summit, where he met with Putin on Friday.

Since before the election, Trump has been vocal about his support for the United States and Russia improving their relations, but has refused to agree with 17 American intelligence agencies that the Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election.

"While we understand the larger goal is to seek cooperation, we have seen the limits of Russia's willingness to work with the United States time and again. For this reason, we cannot agree to any deal that would enhance the Kremlin's intelligence gathering capabilities or overturn actions taken in defense of U.S. officials threatened by Russian officials overseas," the letter reads. "The return of these two facilities to the Russian Federation would risk these outcomes. Therefore, we urge you to remove the return of these facilities from any negotiation or consideration in your discussions with President Putin during your upcoming trip."

However, the fate of the Russian compounds on U.S. soil remains unclear.

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