Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov plans to meet his US counterpart Rex Tillerson for the first time on Thursday in Germany, a foreign ministry spokeswoman said on Wednesday. “The meeting with Secretary of State Mr Tillerson has been planned and is being prepared” on February 16, when both diplomats will be in Bonn for the G20 ministerial talks, spokeswoman Maria Zakharova was quoted by Russian agencies as saying.
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Lavrov will also hold his first meeting with German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, who was appointed last month.
The first meeting between US and Russian senior diplomats comes as Russian officials appear increasingly concerned at the shift in rhetoric coming from Washington which dampens hopes that President Donald Trump will drop sanctions and initiate other policy changes toward Moscow.
It also follows the resignation of Trump’s national security advisor Michael Flynn over his contacts with Russian officials. Zakharova said Lavrov will “discuss bilateral relations, which were taken into a dead end by the previous administration”.
“The plan is to discuss the main international crises which our countries have cooperated on and must cooperate,” she said. “Of course, regional issues will be examined.”
Trump’s spokesman Sean Spicer on Tuesday said the new US president “has been incredibly tough on Russia” and “expects the Russian government to de-escalate violence in the Ukraine and return Crimea.”
Asked to comment, Zakharova said “We don’t give back our territories.”