Despite the strained relations between Moscow and Washington, the US must see Russia as a superpower and seek dialogue, the head of a delegation of US lawmakers said after a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
The delegation headed by Senator Richard Shelby is in the Russian capital to pave the way for the upcoming meeting between President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.
Shelby, who spoke to a journalist after meeting Lavrov, was non-committal about what he expected from the presidential meeting, but said the US should respect Russia.
“We have to look at Russia as a superpower, as a competitor and not an adversary, and we will see what happens,” he said, adding that Trump and Putin are aiming at a productive negotiation. “I think they both a looking for a better day.”
The meeting with Lavrov was held behind closed doors, but Shelby described them as “very good.”
He said: “We are interested in not a strained relationship, but a better relationship.
We’ll see what happens in Helsinki.”
The delegation of US lawmakers arrived in Russia hot on the heels of US National Security Adviser John Bolton, who settled the details of the upcoming Trump-Putin meeting last week.
The two leaders are to have their first serious face-to-face meeting in less than two weeks’ time.
Moscow and Washington have locked horns over a number of issues in recent months, including the Syria conflict and the crisis in Ukraine.
Relations have been affected by Washington’s allegations that Moscow had a hand in influencing the 2016 presidential elections.
Russia has repeatedly denied the allegations, insisting that the public has not been presented with any proof to back up the claim.
Putin once again told Bolton during his recent visit to Moscow that the accusations are not true.