Mike Pompeo is to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov when he travels to Russia next week, the US State Department said in a statement.
The visit comes as the relations between Moscow and Washington are at a new low over accusations of Russian meddling in US elections, disagreements over approaches to Venezuela and Iran’s nuclear program as well as US ditching Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty followed up by Russia suspending its participation.
The State Department says they will discuss “the full range of bilateral and multilateral challenges” during a meeting in the southern city of Sochi on May 14.
Pompeo met Lavrov in Finland earlier this week at the Arctic summit.
President Donald Trump talked to Putin on the phone for an hour last Friday, discussing a wide range of issues, including Venezuela, North Korea and nuclear arms control.
The same topics are most likely to be on the agenda for Pompeo to discuss with Putin and Lavrov. Last week, Washington’s protégé and opposition leader Juan Guaido failed to get enough support to oust Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. The US blamed Russia partially for the coup’s collapse and urged Moscow to stay out Venezuela. Lavrov slammed Washington’s “unprecedented campaign to oust the legitimate government” and once again called for a political solution to the conflict.
This week Iran has announced a suspension to some of its obligations under the landmark agreement – officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – after Washington piled up a series of sanctions on the country and sent an aircraft carrier group & task force to the region to send a message. Moscow said Tehran’s reaction was understandable, and urged Tehran and European countries to fulfill their obligations.
The US pulled out of the INF arms control treaty with Russia in February. Trump said last week that he and Putin discussed a possibility of making it a “three-way deal” with China, adding that Beijing “would very much like to be part of that deal.” Moscow repeatedly said it was ready for talks but it was the US who shied away from the negotiations.
- Published in World