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MOSCOW (AP) _ Russia has told two Canadian diplomats to leave Russia because of ``activities incompatible with their diplomatic status,'' a Foreign Ministry spokesman said Monday.

The formulation is usually a euphemism for alleged espionage.

Ministry spokesman Vladimir Oshurkov said the move was in response to Canada's earlier demand that two Russian diplomats leave Canada ``for no apparent reason.''

In Canada, the Foreign Affairs ministry said the two Russian diplomats left Ottawa ``by mutual agreement'' between the Canadian and Russian governments because of ``activity in Canada inconsistent with their official status.''

The Canadian statement said Russia then demanded the departure from Moscow of the two Canadian diplomats. It said the Canadian diplomats had done nothing wrong, calling their behavior ``beyond reproach.''

Canada now considers the matter closed, according to the statement.

Such tit-for-tat diplomatic squabbles were common during the Cold War era, but have occurred less frequently since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the building of relations between Russia and the West.

The Canadian statement expressed disappointment for the incident at a time when Canada and Russia were building stronger relations.