Putin Meets Pompeo as US Seeks 'a Way Forward' in Ties

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"I hope that reason will triumph", Lavrov said, adding that he hoped reports in the U.S. media that President Donald Trump is planning to send 120,000 troops to counter Iran turn out to be wrong.

"He understands that the U.S. is going to be in the lead, but I think there are places we can work together", Pompeo said.

It is Pompeo's first visit to Russian Federation as secretary of state.

In a key point of contention, Pompeo has rebuffed demands from North Korea, which has the backing of Russian Federation and China, for an early lifting of sanctions before a final deal. "We want Venezuela to get their democracy back", said Pompeo.

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

Pompeo - who like most of the USA political class, with the major exception of President Donald Trump, has been outspoken in his criticism of Putin - said that the two countries found areas on which to cooperate, and voiced optimism in breaking a deadlock on Syria.

The report by USA special counsel Robert Mueller did not find Trump's campaign team colluded with Moscow but did document widespread Russian attempts to influence the 2016 election.

During Pompeo's visit, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow would work "to ensure this situation does not descend into a military scenario".

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President Trump, though, was less assuring. "That continues to be the case", said Pompeo's top Iran adviser, Brian Hook.

"As you know, just a few days ago, I had the pleasure of talking with the United States president on the phone", Putin told Pompeo on Tuesday, as the two met in Sochi.

The U.S. has been critical of Russian Federation for propping up Maduro's regime.

Before his meeting with Pompeo, France's Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian urged Europeans to remain united in support of the nuclear deal, which was signed by the United States, Britain, France, Germany, China and Russian Federation, and which the EU helped to negotiate.

"Despite the exotic nature of Mr Mueller's commission, on the whole he conducted quite an objective investigation and confirmed the absence of any collusion between the USA administration and Russia", Putin said.

Washington a year ago pulled out of a nuclear deal backed by Europe, Russia and China, which curbed Iran's nuclear ambitions in return for sanctions relief. A Kremlin spokesperson rejected the notion that Putin's schedule was an intentional "message" for the USA administration.

The meeting of Trump and Putin would be held next month, as part of the G-20 Summit, in the Japanese city of Osaka.

Putin's foreign affairs adviser Yuri Ushakov said later that the Kremlin is prepared to agree to any format for a Putin-Trump meeting.

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