US Secretary of state Mike Pompeo held talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday.
The talks between Pompeo and Lavrov took place amid tensions in bilateral relations caused by disagreements on a variety of issues – from Russian interference in American elections to armed conflicts in Ukraine and Syria.
In addition, the parties have less time to conclude a new agreement designed to replace the start-3 Treaty, which expires in February 2021.
“Both the President and I have said that if there is a job that we can do together with Russia, we owe it to the American people,” Pompeo said earlier. – I hope that Foreign Minister Lavrov and I can make progress. In particular, the President asked us to work in the field of business relations. We’ll try to work on it.”
Following the talks, Pompeo and Lavrov held a joint press conference.
Opening it, Pompeo stressed that work on improving US-Russian relations continues. We are talking, in particular, about the areas in which cooperation between the two countries is possible, first, about the fight against terrorism.
Sergey Lavrov noted that the talks were businesslike and frank.
However, he said that the situation when the relations between the two leading nuclear powers accumulate contradictions can not be called acceptable.
Lavrov called imaginary Russian interference in the American elections. Allegations of this interference and what Lavrov called suspicion of Russia, the Russian Minister compared to McCarthyism.
He also noted that one of the topics of the talks was the issue of strategic stability and the extension of arms control treaties.
Lavrov said he had informed Pompeo about the talks on Ukraine that had just taken place in Paris.
In addition, he touched upon the situation around the Iranian nuclear program.
In connection with the situation in Venezuela, Lavrov said the need for a peaceful solution to the problem.
The Russian Minister said that Russia is ready to help resolve the problems around North Korea.
Lavrov stated that during the Trump presidency, the volume of trade between the United States and Russia increased.
The Russian Foreign Minister noted that the potential for the development of US-Russian relations is still great.
During the press conference, questions were asked about the North Korean problem.
In this regard, Mike Pompeo recalled the unequivocal position of President Trump, according to which Pyongyang should carry out denuclearization.
Sergey Lavrov was asked about the fate of American businessman Paul Whelan, who was arrested in Moscow. Lavrov responded by criticizing the tactics of Whelan’s lawyers, suggesting that there may be an attempt on their part to create an image of a Martyr.
When asked about Ukraine’s alleged interference in the American elections, Lavrov, in particular, said that this issue has nothing to do with Russia.
Referring to the fate of the start-3 Treaty and further work on arms control, Mike Pompeo noted the need to expand the range of participants in the re-negotiations and, in particular, to involve China in the negotiation process. He stressed the need for a constructive approach to solving all existing problems in the sphere of strategic stability.
In this context, Pompeo returned to the question of the need to maintain strategic stability in US-Russian relations.
Answering the question about the sanctions imposed by the United States against Russia, the Secretary of state stressed the fairness of these sanctions. At the same time, he reiterated the US readiness to increase economic relations with Russia.