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Pompeo Meeting with Lavrov, Putin in Sochi To Emphasize Closer Collaboration Looking to Future

May 11, 2019 (EIRNS)—Speaking in a very measured tone, free of accusations or recriminations, a senior State Department official briefed reporters yesterday on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s May 13-14 visit to Russia. Pompeo will be in Moscow on May 13, where he’ll meet with American businessmen and diplomatic personnel, and then the next day will travel to Sochi where he will meet with both Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and President Vladimir Putin. A question that arose in discussion is whether these meetings might lay the groundwork for a possible Trump-Putin summit in late June at the G20 meeting in Osaka.

The official wouldn’t comment on the likelihood of a future summit between Presidents Trump and Putin, but emphasized that “We’ve been clear all along that part of our Russia policy is it is in our interest to have a better relationship with Russia.” The May 14 meeting is “an opportunity to take the conversation to a higher level and to have that frank and direct conversation on this full range of issues on the relationship,” he said, going on to quote Trump that “a productive dialogue is not only good for the United States and good for Russia, [but] it’s good for the world.... If we’re going to solve many of the problems facing our world, then we are going to have to find ways to cooperate in pursuit of shared interests.”

Among the topics to be discussed are Ukraine, Venezuela, Iran, Syria and North Korea. Arms control will also be high on the agenda. According to the State Department official, Trump has made clear he wants arms control agreements that “reflect modern reality,” and these “must include a broader range of countries and account for a broader range of weapons systems than our current bilateral treaties with Russia.”

While making the obligatory references to Russia’s alleged “destabilizing” activities in Europe and meddling in U.S. elections, the official emphasized several areas in which Russia and the U.S. are collaborating, including Special Envoy for North Korea Stephen Biegun’s and National Security Council official Fiona Hill’s recent trips to Moscow to discuss “our shared goal” of achieving denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula, as well as that of Special Envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad’s meetings with his Russian and Chinese counterparts. Russia’s and China’s cooperation on these issues are greatly appreciated, the State Department official said.

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