Pompeo to meet Putin as Trump seeks better Russia ties again

Pompeo to meet Putin as Trump seeks better Russia ties again

U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo leaves for Moscow on Sunday, with President Donald Trump again calling for improved ties now that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has finished his investigation, Bloomberg reports.

Pompeo will meet U.S. diplomats at the American Embassy in Moscow on Monday before continuing to Sochi for talks with President Vladimir Putin and other senior officials. The secretary has 48 hours -- the entire length of the trip -- to cram in discussions of disputes between the two nations, involving Ukraine, Venezuela and Syria and other issues, along with continued accusations of election interference.

With the Mueller inquiry wrapped up, Trump has returned to signaling his interest in improving U.S.-Russia ties, speaking with Putin for more than an hour last week and tweeting that there is “tremendous potential for a good/great relationship with Russia.” The two leaders had kept their distance as Mueller’s probe into the 2016 U.S. election and allegations of collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia heated up.

“Clearly since the Mueller report came out, Trump is feeling unconstrained about what he’s wanted all along -- a new relationship with Moscow where all the bad issues get swept aside and the two leaders ‘get down to business,”’ said Andrew Weiss, the former director for Russian, Ukrainian, and Eurasian Affairs on the National Security Council who’s now a vice president at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

“What that means in practice is really fuzzy because the agenda largely consists of issues where the U.S. and Russia are at loggerheads,” Weiss said.

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