Pompeo to meet with Russian, Finnish foreign ministers in Helsinki

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will meet with his Russian and Finnish counterparts in Helsinki, Finland, on Monday, the State Department said.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement that Pompeo will travel with President Trump to Finland at the start of next week. Trump will be there to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Pompeo will meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to discuss “a range of issues on the U.S.-Russian agenda,” Nauert said.


He will also discuss regional issues with Finnish Foreign Minister Timo Soini.

Trump is set to meet with Putin at the end of a week-long trip to Europe. He spent the last two days in Belgium for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit, and arrived in the United Kingdom on Thursday. He will meet with British officials there before departing Sunday for Finland.

The president has at times drawn scrutiny for his reluctance to criticize Putin and Russia, particularly for its role in meddling in the 2016 election. 

The U.S. intelligence committee concluded that Russia sought to aid Trump and interfere in the election. Trump has at times downplayed that conclusion, pointing to Putin’s denials.

In a press conference before leaving the NATO summit, Trump previewed his meeting with Putin. He said the meeting won’t have a “big schedule,” but noted he intends to bring up Syria and election meddling.

“He may deny it,” Trump said of Putin’s potential response to questions about election interference. “All I can say is ‘Did you?’ and ‘Don’t do it again.’ ”

Trump has repeatedly suggested the U.S. would benefit from an improved relationship with Russia. On Thursday, he referred to Putin as a “competitor,” but said he is “not my enemy.”

“Is he a friend? No, I don’t know him well enough,” Trump said. “But the couple of times that I’ve gotten to meet him, we got along well… I hope we get along well.”

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