Russian experts’ visit to the U.S.-financed Richard G. Lugar Center for Public Health Research in Georgia should not involve a third party, the Russian Foreign Ministry has said.

“We assume that a visit should take place in a bilateral format without the involvement of representatives of other countries,” the ministry said in a statement. Georgia on Wednesday voiced readiness to invite Russian experts to study the operations of the Lugar research facility, but they should be part of a wider delegation.

Russia has been expressing concerns over the Pentagon’s use of the center to research dangerous infectious diseases near the Russian border.

The United States and Georgia have both dismissed such allegations. As the highest level of laboratory network in Georgia, the Lugar center based on the National Center for Disease Control and Public Health was opened in 2011 and became operational in 2013.


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