December 09, 2019

Russian Foreign Minister to Visit Washington for Talks Tuesday
(Bloomberg) -- Secretary of State Michael Pompeo will host his Russian counterpart in Washington Tuesday for Sergei Lavrov’s first visit to the U.S. capital since a trip in 2017 set off a storm of criticism.Russia’s Foreign Ministry announced the plans Monday. Lavrov is also expected to meet with President Donald Trump, state-run Tass news agency reported, citing an unnamed person in the Foreign Ministry. In May, Pompeo and Lavrov met in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi, when the top U.S. diplomat also held talks with President Vladimir Putin.While Pompeo called those talks “very productive,” relations between the countries remain at the lowest point since the Cold War. Trump called again for closer ties with Russia while at a NATO summit in London last week, highlighting the possibility of reaching a deal to extend the New Start nuclear-arms-control agreement, which expires in 2021.“With respect to nuclear weapons, I’ve spoken to President Putin and I’ve communicated with him,” Trump said. “We are -- he very much wants to and so do we -- work out a treaty of some kind on nuclear weapons.”Arms TreatyThe visit comes as Trump is facing an impeachment investigation that turns in part on his embrace of a theory that Ukraine rather than Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. election. Lavrov arrives a day after the Justice Department’s inspector general is to release the results of a probe on Russia’s 2016 meddling.Russia has criticized U.S. plans to keep troops in Syria and warned that time is running out to extend the New Start agreement.“It’s hard to say what the rush is” for the Lavrov meeting, said Vladimir Frolov, a former Russian diplomat and foreign policy analyst. “The only thing would be to get the negotiations started on extending” the New Start agreement, he said.Lavrov’s last trip to Washington, in May 2017, included talks with Trump in the Oval Office and drew attacks amid reports that Trump had provided his Russian guest with sensitive intelligence information.Tuesday’s meeting comes a day after Putin meets in Paris with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy for talks on ending the conflict in eastern Ukraine.Trump has also said he’s considering Putin’s invitation to come to the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II on May 9 in Moscow.(Updates with possible Trump meeting in second paragraph)To contact the reporter on this story: Stepan Kravchenko in Moscow at skravchenko@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Gregory L. White at gwhite64@bloomberg.net, Tony HalpinFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
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