US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was to visit Russia on May 13-14, but only visited Sochi on May 14th.
The planned visit to Moscow on May 13th was cancelled, as Pompeo instead visited Brussels to meet with “European allies to discuss recent threatening actions and statements by the Islamic Republic of Iran. Secretary Pompeo will continue to coordinate closely with our allies and partners to ensure the security of our mutual interests in the Middle East and around the world.”
Pompeo had “a very good meeting” with the NATO secretary general and with the US ambassador to NATO, Ambassador Hutchison, discussing a number of subjects. Iran was the principal purpose for these bilateral meetings. He also met with Federica Mogherini, the EU high representative.
One of the main discussions at the meeting was for Iran “to behave like a normal nation.”
“Well, our goal continues to be for Iran to behave like a normal nation and not like a revolutionary cause. They have been exporting violent revolution around the Middle East for 40 years. We have put in place an entirely new foreign policy with respect to the Iranian regime. Iran’s era of deniable attacks is over. Tehran will be held accountable for the attacks of its proxies. They cannot organize, train, and equip their proxies and then expect anyone to believe that they had no role. And so we will not make a distinction between the Iranian Government and its proxies.”
As a result, the only visit that took place was the May 14th visit to Sochi and Pompeo meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. This marked the first official visit of Pompeo as the 70th US secretary of state to Russia.
Pompeo said that a number of important topics will be discussed during his meeting in Sochi.
My meetings in #Russia will highlight a number of important topics. 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.
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) May 14, 2019
At the beginning of the meeting Pompeo and Lavrov exchanged pleasantries and hope that the Russian-US relationship may be improved, since there are many areas of interest that are shared, in addition to many that the two countries compete in.
Following are the entire starting remarks by both Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, both of them essentially said that US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Helsinki summit, as well as during the May 3rd phone call agreed that relations must be improved:
“FOREIGN MINISTER LAVROV: (Via interpreter) Mr. Secretary of State, (inaudible) welcome to Sochi.
We had a chance to hold the discussion on the 6th of May, when we had our negotiations in Finland on the margins of the Arctic Council. We covered and we had an exchange of opinions on the international agenda and several bilateral issues. And I hope that today we’ll have a chance to discover them and to discuss them in more detail.
I hope that we’ll be able to come up with specifics of ways how to get U.S.-Russian relations out of that regrettable state that they happen to be, due to several objective and subjective reasons involved, considering that this is the task, the instructions coming from our presidents that was confirmed during the Helsinki summit, as well as in their conversation on the 3rd of May.
We have multiple issues that require both urgent methods as well as long-term, sustainable solutions.
That has to do with the situation in strategic stability sphere, as well as more efficient ways to tackle terrorism, as well as finding solutions to different clashes in different regions of the world.
We see that there are certain suspicions and prejudice on both sides, but this is not a way for – have a win-win situation because that mistrust that we have hinders both your security and our security, and causes concern around the world.
I believe that it is time to build new, more constructive and responsible metrics of our relationship, of our mutual perception, and we are prepared to do that if our U.S. colleagues and counterparts readily support that. I believe that a requisite – an important requisite for success of our dialogue is to rebuild trust at all levels of our dialogue – in the highest level, at the working level, (inaudible). And considering that we have met over the past two weeks for two times, that’s a reason for some optimism. Let’s try it and see what happens.”
“SECRETARY POMPEO: Sergey, thank you for hosting me. I appreciate it. It’s great to see you again, twice in a couple weeks. I’m excited about that. And I know we’ll see you too (inaudible), we’ll have many more opportunities for conversation.
I’m here today because President Trump is committed to furthering this relationship. As I think you said, we have differences. We – each country will protect its own interests, look out for its own interests of its people. But – it’s not (inaudible) that we’re adversaries on every issue, and I hope that we can find places where we have a set of overlapping interests and can truly begin to build out strong relationships, at least in those particular – on those particular issues.
I’ve seen it myself. We worked closely with you on counterterrorism during my time and service in the Executive Branch very successfully. We’ve saved American lives, we’ve saved Russian lives, as we’ve (inaudible) good, honest, sincere work together. And I think on issues such as arms control and nuclear proliferation, we’ve talked about some of the regional conflicts and terrorism, I think there are spaces where we can get our teams and begin to build out a common set of understandings. I hope too that we can begin to build out our strategic security dialogue, as you and I spoke about when we were in Finland a couple weeks back.
And I hope this effort, I hope this good-faith effort on the part of each of our two nations, as directed by President Trump and President Putin, will stabilize the relationship and put it back on a trajectory that I think will be good for not only each of our two countries and each of our peoples, but for the world as well. I know we’ll have frank discussions, and I’m sure there will be places where we just can’t find common ground, but I look forward to our time together.”
Meanwhile, the Kremlin denied receiving official proposals for a Trump-Putin meeting from Washington.
“We have noted this statement. We have already registered such statements before. We have taken note of this statement, but our US colleagues have not put forward any initiatives. There has not been any agreement to start preparing for the talks”, Peskov told reporters, when asked about the Kremlin’s reaction to Trumps’ statement that he may meet with Putin in Osaka.
Trump, when asked what message he’d like to send to Putin via Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who is set to meet with the Russian president in Sochi in the next few days, Trump said that despite what his critics may say, “I think the message is that there’s never been anybody that’s been so tough on Russia.”
“It makes sense to get along with Russia,” Trump continued. “Nobody has sanctioned Russia like I have. Nobody has talked about the pipeline going to Germany and various other places like I have.”
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