Pompeo to travel to Russia, meet with Putin next week

Pompeo to travel to Russia, meet with Putin next week
© Stefani Reynolds

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoOvernight Defense: 1,500 troops heading to Mideast to counter Iran | Trump cites Iran tensions to push through Saudi arms sale | Senate confirms Army, Navy chiefs before weeklong recess Senators say Trump using loophole to push through Saudi arms sale Trump to send 1,500 troops to Middle East to counter Iran MORE will travel to Russia next week to meet with Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinRussia's dangerous new ploy: US trading Ukraine for Venezuela Trump's rejection of the Arms Trade Treaty Is based on reality Ex-Trump campaign adviser on Tillerson remarks: Trump will 'pick a fight with anybody' MORE and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov, the State Department announced Friday. 

Pompeo is scheduled to meet with Putin and Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, in Sochi on May 14 to “discuss the full range of bilateral and multilateral challenges.” Before that, he will meet with officials at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. 

ADVERTISEMENT

“On May 13, he will arrive in Russia to meet with his team at U.S. Embassy Moscow before meeting with U.S. business leaders and U.S. exchange alumni. Secretary Pompeo will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said.

A senior State Department official told reporters later Friday that Pompeo and Russian officials would discuss several bilateral and global issues, including arms control, the situation in Ukraine, Venezuela, and North Korean denuclearization. Pompeo also plans to press Putin and Lavrov on the “challenges” in the bilateral relationship with Moscow, including Russian interference in U.S. elections.

“The secretary will have a very candid conversation about concerns in our bilateral relationship, including Russia’s breach of longstanding arms control agreements like the [Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty] and Kremlin-backed attempts to meddle in U.S. and other elections,” the official said.

“No administration has been tougher than the Trump administration in imposing costs on Russia for its malign activities, but, as President TrumpDonald John TrumpA better VA, with mental health services, is essential for America's veterans Pelosi, Nadler tangle on impeachment, contempt vote Trump arrives in Japan to kick off 4-day state visit MORE has said, and I quote, ‘A productive dialogue is not only good for the United States and Russia, it is good for the world,’” the official continued.  

The trip follows Pompeo's meeting with Lavrov in Finland earlier this week, and represents his first trip to Russia as America's chief diplomat.

Pompeo’s travel’s come after President Trump and Putin spoke last week for over an hour, a discussion Trump described as “very productive.” The two spoke about special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump orders more troops to Mideast amid Iran tensions Trump: Democrats just want Mueller to testify for a 'do-over' Graham: Mueller investigation a 'political rectal exam' MORE’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election, which Trump referred to as the “Russia hoax” in a pair of tweets about the conversation. 

Trump later said he didn’t warn Putin not to meddle in the 2020 elections, telling reporters, “We didn’t discuss that.” Russia has denied interfering in the 2016 presidential vote, despite the conclusions from numerous U.S. intelligence agencies that the Kremlin meddled in the election.

Pompeo was asked about the developments during an interview on “Fox News Sunday" earlier this week. He defended Trump for not broaching the subject of election interference, suggesting the conversation may not have been “long enough” for it to come up. 

Pompeo asserted the Trump administration has been “has been tougher on Russia than any of his predecessor administrations” and insisted the administration has taken seriously combating future election interference. 

“I talk to leaders all the time. We cover a broad range of subjects. Sometimes conversations just aren’t long enough to include every issue that might be brought up,” Pompeo said. 

“I’ll let the White House talk to what the president actually said in the set of remarks, but no one should misunderstand from your question today, your viewers should not be misled. This administration has taken seriously the threat of election interference, and we’ll continue to do so,” Pompeo added.

Updated at 11:44 a.m.