U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is traveling to meet with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin to discuss “the full range of bilateral and multilateral challenges,” the State Department said in a statement.
Pompeo arrives in the Black Sea resort of Sochi on Sunday, and is scheduled to remain through Tuesday for talks slated to include Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, according to the State Department.
This will be the second time Pompeo meets with Lavrov in as many weeks; the two men met together during the Arctic Council ministerial in Finland. At that time, Pompeo warned of Russian aggression and expansionism in the Arctic region.
The highest-level talks in 10 months, the meeting comes as the two top world powers are at odds over Venezuela, Ukraine, North Korea, Iran and Syria, to name several difficult issues that will be on the agenda.
Discussions on Syria and Iran are also likely to include some discussion of Israeli security involvement as well; but that point was not mentioned in the State Department briefing.
Pompeo will also travel to Moscow while in Russia, where he will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and pay his respects to the Soviet troops who died during World War II, when Russia and the United States fought together as allies to eradicate evil.
“It is no secret that we have many areas of disagreement with the Russian government,” a senior State Department official told reporters at a briefing Friday.
“The Secretary will have a very candid conversation about concerns in our bilateral relationship, “including Russia’s breach of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and “Kremlin-backed attempts to meddle in U.S. and other foreign elections.”
At least two American citizens are still being held in Russia – Paul Whelan and Michael Calvey – neither of whom has been provided “adequate consular services,” according to U.S. officials. That issue is also expected to come up during Pompeo’s meetings this week.