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Pompeo To Visit Russia To Discuss Bilateral Ties, Arms Control

President Trump has made clear that he wants arms control agreements that reflect modern reality

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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo would make his maiden trip to Russia next week to meet his counterpart Sergei Lavrov and Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss bilateral relationship between the two countries and a wide range of other issues including arms control, Iran, N Korea, Ukraine and Venezuela.

Pompeo's visit to Moscow and Sochi on May 13 and 14 comes days after US President Donald Trump spoke over phone with Putin for about an hour earlier this week over various matters, including Venezuela and a potential three-way nuclear deal that includes China.

An issue high on the agenda for their discussions will be arms control.  President Trump has made clear that he wants arms control agreements that reflect modern reality," a senior State Department official said on the condition of anonymity.

"These agreements must include a broader range of countries and account for a broader range of weapon systems than our current bilateral treaties with Russia," the official said.

The official said that the two sides would have a full range of global issues to discuss, including Ukraine, Venezuela, Iran, Syria and North Korea along with challenges in bilateral relationship between the two countries.

On the first day of his visit in Moscow, Pompeo will meet with American business leaders and US exchange program alumni to hear their perspectives.

He will also participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to honour the sacrifices of those who died fighting with against the Nazi regime.

Pompeo will then travel to Sochi for meetings with Lavrov and Putin on May 14.

It is no secret that we have many areas of disagreement with the Russian Government and the Secretary will have a very candid conversation about concerns in our bilateral relationship, including Russia's breach of longstanding arms control agreements like the INF, and Kremlin-backed attempts to meddle in US and other foreign elections,  the official said.

The official reiterated the recent remarks of Trump wherein he pushed for improving ties with Russia.

Noting that the United States is not the only nation having frank discussions with Russia, the official said that European allies and partners have stood with the United States in expressing their concern about Russian actions that threaten their shared commitment to Europe that is strong and free.

We are not going to solve these issues overnight, but we are going to have   we have to be engaging to create opportunities for progress,  he said.

Earlier this week, Pompeo had met Lavrov in Finland at the Arctic Council ministerial.

The Secretary of State had slammed Russia for "aggressive behaviour" in the Arctic and also said that "Russians must get out" of crisis-wracked Venezuela.

Responding to questions, the official said that the Trump Administration has been clear all along that part of its Russia policy is in its interest to have a better relationship with Russia.

The President has been clear, the Secretary has been clear on that.  So where we have concerns, we're going to raise them directly, narrow those differences, and find areas where we can cooperate to protect and advance our interests,  said the official.

(PTI)


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