17:20 GMT05 August 2020
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    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – The Russian Ministry of Transport informed Washington that Moscow will extend overflight approvals for US airlines through October and for all-cargo flights from Asia to Europe through April, a State Department spokesperson told Sputnik.

    "The Ministry of Transport informed us today that it will extend overflight approvals for US airlines for operations on three routes through October 28, 2018," the spokesperson said on Tuesday. "The Ministry of Transport extended approvals for all-cargo flights from Asia to Europe through April 20."

    Earlier, the US State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert announced that it was facilitating talks between American airliners and Russia on overflights into Russian airspace, just hours before a deal that allows such flights expires.

    "Russian approval for these overflights by US carriers expires today at 7:59 p.m. eastern time," Nauert said. "We held a meeting here at the State Department today with various commercial carriers and also cargo carriers where we're seeking to help speed this along and facilitate things so that US carriers and passengers aren't disrupted."

    "The Russian government did say to our embassy when we spoke with them, 'don't panic, we're not going to do anything to harm the United States' aviation sector.' We certainly hope that's the case. We're expecting a response hopefully later today," Nauert said.

    The new overflights agreement must be negotiated directly between the US carriers and the Russian government, and the State Department is serving only as a facilitator to the talks, Nauert said.

    "Normally this is done at the deputy assistant secretary level, and we've sort of ramped up our engagement to facilitate all of this happening," Nauert said, adding that Ambassador Jon Huntsman has been involved in some of the conversations.


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