Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday meets US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the highest-level talks between the rival powers in nearly a year as they see if they can make headway on a raft of disagreements from Venezuela to Iran to arms control.
Pompeo will visit Putin in the Black Sea resort of Sochi less than two weeks after US President Donald Trump voiced optimism about improving relations with Moscow during a more than one-hour telephone conversation with the Russian leader.
The new diplomatic push followed the long-awaited report in the United States by investigator Robert Mueller which found that Russia interfered in the 2016 election but that the Trump campaign did not collude with Moscow, partially lifting a cloud that had hung over the mogul-turned-president for two years.
Putin is expected to receive Pompeo Tuesday evening after the US secretary of state holds talks with Moscow’s top diplomat Sergei Lavrov.
“My meetings in Russia will highlight a number of important topics,” Pompeo tweeted on Tuesday.
“On some issues we may agree, on others we may disagree, but when it’s in our national interests, it is our responsibility to find a way forward.”
Pompeo is the highest-ranking US official to see Putin since July when Trump met him in Helsinki and stunned the US political class by appearing to accept the Russian leader’s statement at face value that he did not meddle in the US election.
Despite Trump’s conciliatory attitude toward Putin, Washington and Moscow are at loggerheads on an array of urgent strategic questions, including the Venezuelan crisis, Iran, the Syrian civil war and the conflict in Ukraine.