MOSCOW – Russia would like to rebuild ties with the United States through a dialogue built on trust because suspicions and prejudices had only served to hinder bilateral security, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Tuesday at a meeting in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.
Lavrov told his US counterpart Mike Pompeo, who had flown in earlier in the day, that restoring good relations with the US would be a starting point to finding common ground between the two nations.
“I’m here today because President (Donald) Trump is committed to improving this relationship,” Pompeo replied to Lavrov during a brief encounter in front of the press. “As I think you said, we have differences, each country will protect its own interests, look out for its own interests,” he said.
On his first official visit to Russia, Pompeo told Lavrov that he looked forward to tackling a range of bilateral issues although he acknowledged there would likely be areas where the pair would inevitably struggle to find common ground.
The pair recently met on the sidelines of the Arctic Council in Finland.
“I believe that it is time to build a new more constructive and responsible matrix of our mutual perception and we are ready to do this if our US colleagues and counterparts are willing to do that,” Lavrov said.
“We see that there are certain suspicions and prejudices on both sides but this is not a way to have a win-win situation because that mistrust hinders both your security and our security,” he added.
He said the key to restoring positive relations was to reestablish dialogue based on trust at all levels of the relationship.
“We’ll try it, see how it turns out,” he said.
Pompeo herald US-Russian cooperation in the ambit of security and counter-terror, which he said had saved Russian and American lives.
The former CIA chief also highlighted the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and regional conflict resolution as other successful areas in the Washington-Moscow relationship.
He also expressed his satisfaction for having met with Lavrov twice in such a short period of time and said they would have the chance to discuss matters further at the upcoming G20 meeting in Osaka in June.
“I know we’ll have frank discussions, I’m sure there’ll be places we just can’t find common ground but I’m looking forward to our time together,” he said.
He said he hoped the pair could find shared convictions on overlapping themes.
The talks come as US tensions with Iran escalated, while other geopolitical topics high on the agenda would likely revolve around Venezuela and Ukraine.
Tehran remains an ally of Moscow as both sides back Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad in the civil war there and both sit on the negotiating table with Turkey in the so-called Astana talks aimed at establishing peace in the war-torn nation.
Meanwhile, the US is leading an escalation in tensions against Iran and has ordered an increase in US military presence in the region to ward off what Washington says is the possibility that Iran was readying to mount destabilizing attacks.
In Venezuela, the US is one of the most vocal backers of interim President Juan Guaido, while Russia is one of the main creditors and backers of the embattled Nicolas Maduro.
Pompeo is also due to meet with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.