Pompeo to hold talks in Brussels

Clay Curtis
May 13, 2019

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will head to Russian Federation next week for talks with President Vladimir Putin amid heightened U.S. -Russia tensions over the crisis in Venezuela and the Trump administration's hardline policy on Iran, the State Department said Friday. "Pompeo will arrive tomorrow, around the time for the talks". Putin and President Trump spoke at length by phone last week and Pompeo saw Lavrov earlier this week in Finland. The State Department declined to comment, but Foreign Policy magazine reported that the statement was released by mistake against Pompeo's wishes.

He will meet Putin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Sochi, Russia on Tuesday to "discuss the full range of bilateral and multilateral challenges", she added.

Conflicts in Venezuela, Iran, Syria, Ukraine and North Korea are expected to be discussed, as well as the cases of United States citizens who are detained in Russian Federation. "President Trump has made clear that he wants arms control agreements that reflect modern reality", a senior State Department official said on the condition of anonymity. The official would not be specific about any particular agreement Pompeo would push.

The U.S. official said other topics for the Putin-Pompeo talks will include the crisis in Venezuela, the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria, as well as Iran, which has faced increasing pressure from the United States - all areas where Washington and Moscow are at direct odds with one another.

Still, Pompeo told ABC News he hopes "we can find places where we can have overlap in our interests".

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An EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting is scheduled in Brussels on Monday, but the State Department did not offer specific details of Pompeo's revised agenda.

The Secretary of State had slammed Russia for "aggressive behaviour" in the Arctic and also said that "Russians must get out" of crisis-wracked Venezuela.

Tensions mounted last week, when Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that signatories to the deal now have 60 days to come up with a plan to shield his country from the sanctions imposed by President Donald Trump.

Before an European Union summit in Romania on Thursday, French President Emmanuel Macron said that the nuclear deal must be saved and that the accord's signatories should do all they can to ensure Iran respects it.

Iran says the strategy amounts to "psychological warfare" and a senior Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander on Sunday said Iran would retaliate to any aggressive USA moves. The State Department said Pompeo would meet with USA embassy staff and US business leaders in the Russian capital and lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Kremlin wall.

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