Mon, 20 Jan 2020

US Confirms Washington Visit by Russian Foreign Minister

Voice of America
09 Dec 2019, 16:05 GMT+10

WASHINGTON - U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will welcome his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov on Tuesday -- the Russian's first visit to Washington since a controversial 2017 meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump, the State Department announced.

The brief statement about the meeting, to be held at the State Department, said Pompeo and Lavrov would "discuss a broad range of regional and bilateral issues."

On Friday, a Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman said the meeting was being "prepared" for Tuesday.

The situations in war-wracked Syria and Ukraine are likely to top the agenda. The Washington meeting will come on the heels of talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukraine's Volodymyr Zelenskiy over the conflict in Ukraine's east in Paris on Monday.

Iran and North Korea are also of mutual concern in Washington and Moscow.

Pompeo and Lavrov met in September on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York.

But Lavrov has not been on an official visit to the U.S. capital since his encounter with Trump in the Oval Office in May 2017, which was followed by allegations that the U.S. leader divulged classified intelligence in the meeting.

Photographs of the meeting showed Lavrov, Trump and subsequently sacked Russian envoy to Washington Sergei Kislyak sharing a laugh.

U.S. intelligence concluded that Moscow interfered in the 2016 presidential election with an eye to swinging it in Trump's favor, but U.S. special counsel Robert Mueller found there was not enough evidence to prove that Trump's campaign conspired with the Russian government in those efforts.

The report did not conclude that Trump had committed a crime, but it also did not fully exonerate him.

"If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the president clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state," Mueller's long-awaited report said.

"Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, however, we are unable to reach that judgment."

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