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*-- Russia appoints Steven Seagal to be 'special representative' to US --*

The Russian government has appointed actor Steven Seagal to be the country's special representative to the United States to work on humanitarian ties, Russia's Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Saturday.

"The task is to promote the further development of Russian-American relations in the humanitarian sphere, including interaction in the field of culture, art, public and youth exchanges and more," the foreign ministry said, adding that the position is unpaid and is similar to a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador role.

In a tweet, Seagal said he takes the position "very seriously."

"I am deeply humbled and honoured to have been appointed as a special representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry in charge of Russian and American Humanitarian ties. I hope we can strive for peace, harmony and positive results in the world," Seagal wrote.

The action film star has close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who granted Russian citizenship in November 2016.

In May, Seagal attended Putin's swearing-in ceremony after the Russian leader won re-election. He has also defended Putin from accusations of interfering in the 2016 presidential election in the United States.

"For anyone to think that Vladimir Putin had anything to do with fixing the elections, or even that the Russians have that kind of technology, is stupid," Seagal said on Good Morning Britain last year.


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