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White House Says Trump Will Sign Russian Sanctions Bill

U.S. -- U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a "Make America Great Again" rally at the Covelli Centre in Youngstown, Ohio, July 25, 2017

The White House announced late on July 28 that U.S. President Donald Trump has decided to sign legislation approved overwhelmingly by Congress to strengthen sanctions against Russia over its alleged meddling in the U.S. presidential election.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that Trump was involved in negotiating "critical elements" in early drafts of the bill -- something not previously disclosed by the White House.

"He has now reviewed the final version and, based on its responsiveness to his negotiations, approves the bill and intends to sign it," she said.

The White House announcement came after Russia announced retaliatory measures over the legislation, ordering a cut in U.S. diplomatic staff in Russia and the seizing of U.S. diplomatic property.

Russia's foreign minister told his U.S. counterpart, however, that Moscow is willing to try to continue to improve relations -- a goal espoused by Trump during his campaign -- despite the "hostile" measures in the bill.

The bill cements into law existing sanctions on Russia over its alleged election meddling and aggression in Ukraine, and adds new measures penalizing Russia's military intervention in Syria while requiring Trump to secure Congress' approval to ease or waive those sanctions. It also contains tough sanctions against Iran and North Korea.

Based on reporting by AP, AFP, and Reuters