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Putin meets Pompeo as US seeks 'a way forward' in ties

AFP  |  Sochi (Russia) 

Russian on Tuesday meets US in the highest-level talks between the rival powers in nearly a year as they see if they can make headway on a raft of disagreements from to to arms control.

Pompeo will visit Putin in the resort of Sochi less than two weeks after US voiced optimism about improving relations with during a more than one-hour with the Russian leader.

The new diplomatic push followed the long-awaited report in the by which found that interfered in the 2016 election but that the Trump campaign did not collude with Moscow, partially lifting a cloud that had hung over the mogul-turned-for two years.

Putin is expected to receive Pompeo Tuesday evening after the US holds talks with Moscow's top

"My meetings in will highlight a number of important topics," Pompeo tweeted on Tuesday.

"On some issues we may agree, on others we may disagree, but when it's in our national interests, it is our responsibility to find a way forward." Pompeo is the highest-ranking US to see Putin since July when Trump met him in and stunned the US political class by appearing to accept the Russian leader's statement at face value that he did not meddle in the US election.

Despite Trump's conciliatory attitude toward Putin, and are at loggerheads on an array of urgent strategic questions, including the Venezuelan crisis, Iran, the Syrian civil war and the conflict in

Hours before he meets Pompeo, Putin is expected to visit a top military flight test centre and inspect new weaponry on Tuesday.

At a meeting Monday evening, Putin stressed that was developing hypersonic weapons and tasked his top brass with also developing defences against such weapons.

"We understand full well that leading countries of the world will sooner or later get such weapons," Putin said.

"This means that we should get hold of defences against such types of weapons before" Western countries put such weapons into combat service.

Both the and Russia hope to make some progress on arms control, with seeking a five-year extension of the New START treaty, which caps the number of nuclear warheads well below Cold War limits and is set to expire in 2021.

The earlier this year pulled out of another key arms control agreement, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty, with NATO allies saying a Russian missile system was in violation. Moscow has denied the claims.

Last year Putin revealed a new generation of "invincible" nuclear weapons and warned of a new arms race if pulled out of weapons treaties.

The crisis is expected to be another key point of contention.

The has been trying for more than three months to topple Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, a leftist firebrand whose re-election was widely criticised for irregularities, and Pompeo has repeatedly blamed Russia for giving him a lifeline.

Trump has, however, contradicted Pompeo, saying the Russian president assured him that Moscow is not involved in

The US president's enthusiasm for courting Putin has little support in Washington, even within his own administration, which has kept up a campaign of pressure including sanctions on Russia over alleged election meddling and Moscow's support for armed separatists in

Pompeo, despite his close relationship with Trump, left little doubt on where he stood in remarks Saturday in

Addressing the conservative Claremont Institute, Pompeo said that US policymakers in recent decades had "drifted from realism" and chastised them for believing that "enfolding the likes of and Russia into a so-called rules-based international order would hasten their domestic evolution towards democracy."

"But we can see now 30 years on, after the end of the Cold War, that the Putin regime slays dissidents in cold blood and invades its neighbours," Pompeo said.

Pompeo cancelled a stop in Moscow scheduled for Monday to meet with European foreign ministers in Brussels, who have been uncomfortable with the hawkish direction of the United States, especially on

The United States has pulled out of a nuclear deal backed by the Europeans, Russia and and instead has slapped sweeping sanctions on in an all-out effort to curb Tehran's regional clout.

The United States has recently ramped up the pressure by deploying to the region an group and nuclear-capable bombers, warning vaguely of imminent threats from Iran, which UN inspectors say is complying with the 2015 accord.

Russia's Lavrov said he would have a "frank conversation" with Pompeo on Iran.

"We will try to clarify with Pompeo how the Americans plan to get out of this crisis, which was created by their unilateral decisions," Lavrov told reporters as he met his Chinese counterpart in Sochi on Monday.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, May 14 2019. 15:56 IST