The United States and Russia have agreed to a meeting between top diplomats.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that he would be meeting U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo shortly after the upcoming July 16 summit in Helsinki between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, Reuters reported this week.
During a news conference, Lavrov said Russia was hopeful that the upcoming summit would generate a productive discussion on issues impacting relations between the U.S. and Russia.
Due to Pompeo’s busy schedule, Lavrov said the two would not meet ahead of the summit in Helsinki.
Just this week, Pompeo embarked on his third trip to North Korea. He will stop in Tokyo, Hanoi and Abu Dhabi before arriving in Brussels for the NATO Summit on July 10.
“We agreed to find a suitable place and dates after the meeting of our presidents in Helsinki to consider ways to attain the goals that we hope will be set at this summit,” Lavrov said, according to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“I can assure you that the preparation at the expert level is continuing. I do not want to get so far ahead, but we are looking forward to a frank discussion on all the issues that mar our relationship with the United States,” Lavrov added.
Lavrov said that “all matters related to Syria are bound to be discussed in Helsinki.”
“The agreement on this area has already been reached and was fixed in the documents and decisions adopted by Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump in Hamburg in July 2017 and in Danang in November 2017,” he continued.
Republican members of Congress recently met with Lavrov and other Russian officials in Moscow.
Alabama’s Sen. Richard Shelby said that the U.S. and Russia “don’t necessarily need to be adversaries.”
Shelby told Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin: “I’m not here today to accuse Russia of this or that or so forth. I’m saying that we should all strive for a better relationship.”
The meeting was said to have helped set the tone for the upcoming summit. Russian officials were reportedly hopeful of improving relations with the U.S. after years of little contact between the nations.
Last week, National Security Advisor John Bolton met separately with both Putin and Lavrov.
It was Bolton who discussed the Presidential summit, as well as the meeting between Pompeo and Lavrov.
Bolton told CBS News the goal of the summit is “for the two leaders to have a chance to sit down not in the context of some larger multilateral meeting, but just the two of them to go over what’s on their mind about a whole range of issues.”