In the midst of a firestorm over Russian meddling in last year’s US election, senior diplomats from both countries will meet next week to consider a number of disputes, the State Department has said.
Career diplomat Thomas Shannon, the US State Department’s third-in-command, will host Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov in Washington on July 17, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said on Tuesday. Moscow had cancelled a previously scheduled late-June meeting in St. Petersburg between the counterparts, citing new US sanctions linked to the conflict in Ukraine. “Shannon has been hard at work as we have been trying to find areas that we could deal with some of these so-called irritants,” Nauert said, without elaborating.
Diplomats quoted by Russian news agencies stressed that Shannon and Ryabkov would discuss sanctions imposed last December at the tail end of Barack Obama’s presidency, which led to the expulsion of some 30 Russian diplomats and spies, as well as the closure of two stateside Russian residential complexes. The two officials will also likely take on issues concerning Ukraine and Syria, according to US diplomats.
Upon returning last weekend from a jaunt to Europe during which he met his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter that it was “time to move forward in working constructively with Russia!” But Trump’s aspirations will likely come up against US lawmakers who are demanding more sanctions over Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 vote that brought him to power –accusations Moscow has denied.
News that the president’s eldest son Donald Trump Jr met with a Kremlin-linked lawyer during the campaign has ramped up the tension. The real estate scion in June 2016 admitted to meeting the Russian lawyer in a bid to get damaging material on his father’s presidential rival Hillary Clinton.