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Pompeo set to meet Putin in first official visit to Russia since Mueller report

Sabra Ayres And Tracy Wilkinson, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

"We have lots of places where I hope we can find overlapping interests with Russia," Pompeo said before arriving in Russia. "It may be the case that we can't; and where we can't, we'll go our own ways."

Sitting across from the secretary of State at a long, formal table ahead of the meeting in Sochi, Lavrov said that the fact that this was the second meeting in as many weeks with Pompeo showed a good-faith effort on both sides to improve the relationship between Washington and Moscow.

"Considering that we have met twice over the last two weeks is a reason for optimism," he said.

Still, the U.S. and Russia must rebuild trust before realizing any hope of moving forward, Lavrov said.

"We see that there are certain suspicions or prejudices on both sides, but this is not a way to have a win-win situation," he said. "The mistrust that we have hinders both your security and our security and causes concerns around the globe."

On Monday, Pompeo detoured from a scheduled direct flight to Russia and stopped in Brussels, where European foreign ministers were meeting. He hoped to convince them to join the U.S. in isolating Iran and cutting off all oil sales and other trade with the Islamic Republic. But he got a frosty reception from Europeans who believe the Trump administration is inflaming tensions with Tehran unnecessarily.

 

"We are very worried about the risk of a conflict happening by accident, with an escalation that is unintended really on either side but ends with some kind of conflict," British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said.

The U.S., alone, pulled out of a landmark 2015 international agreement with Iran to curb its nuclear-production capabilities in exchange for sanctions relief, saying the deal did not go far enough in stopping Tehran's other "malign behavior," including support for militant groups throughout the Middle East. Europeans who were also party to the deal said it was working and should be perfected instead of jettisoned.

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