Pompeo met with Putin on US-Russian relations, Iran, addresses Mueller Report; Putin invites Pompeo to return to Russia to “benefit our bilateral ties and facilitate development”; Iran claims recent attacks on tankers sabotage.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi on Wednesday as part of his trip centered on talks on Iran. He also met with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov where he reiterated that while the United States is not seeking a war with Iran, “We have also made clear to the Iranians that if American interests are attacked, we will most certainly respond in an appropriate fashion.”
Speaking following their meeting, Putin confirmed a recent phone call with President Trump where “I got the impression that the President is in favor of restoring Russia-US ties and contacts and resolving issues of mutual interest.” He claimed that Russia is interested in restoring relations with the United States “on a full scale.” Referring specifically to the Mueller Report, Putin stated, “I hope that the necessary conditions for this are being created now since… he should be given credit for conducting what is generally an objective inquiry. He reaffirmed the lack of any trace or collusion between Russia and the current administration, which we described as sheer nonsense from the very start. There was no, nor could there be any interference on our part in the US election at the government level. Nevertheless, regrettably, these allegations have served as a reason for the deterioration of our interstate ties.”
Putin then shifted to bilateral, mutual interests, “such as the preservation of strategic stability, the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the settlement of regional crises, the struggle against organized crime, efforts to resolve environmental issues, counter global poverty and other threats of our time… [and] economic issues.” He called for increased trade between the US and Russia, highlighting the nearly 5% increase in bilateral trade this year.
Addressing the United States as a major oil distributor, he stated, “We know that the United States is becoming and has already become a major oil producer, and in this sense, we have something to discuss in order to ensure stability in the global energy markets. There are also other possibilities for economic cooperation. I hope all this will be open to discussion.” He also invited Pompeo to return to Russia, to “benefit our bilateral ties and facilitate development.”
Pompeo thanked Putin for his time, reporting that while there “are places we disagree, there are places I think are truly overlapping interests that we can build on,” adding, “And most importantly President Trump very much wants to do that.” He reiterated that the United States will continue to “protect our nations’ interests, but there are places that our two countries can find where we can be cooperative, we can be productive, we can be accumulative, we can work together to make each of our two peoples more successful, and frankly, the world more successful too.” He reiterated that President Trump is committed to doing “everything we can” to improve relations with Russia and praised bilateral cooperation on North Korea, Afghanistan and counter-terrorism.
Their meeting follows accusations from Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif that recent attacks on ships near the port of Fujairah were an attempt to bring Iran to war. He referred to “policies that hardliners in the US administration as well as in the region are attempting to impose,” and accused, “We raised concerns over the suspicious activities and sabotage that are happening in our region. We had formerly anticipated that they would carry out these sorts of activities to escalate tension.”
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei claimed there would be no war with the United States or the West, taking to Twitter stating, “We don’t seek a war, nor do they,” in reference to the Trump Administration.
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