WASHINGTON, May 9. /TASS/. Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is starting a working visit to the United States on Tuesday. The plan is to meet U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday, May 10, and to attend the Arctic Council later on.
"The talks with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson are scheduled for May 10 in Washington. At the talks, (the top diplomats) will exchange views on topical global issues and pressing problems related to bilateral relations," Russia's Foreign Ministry said. "Afterwards, Sergey Lavrov will participate in the Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting in Fairbanks (Alaska state)," the ministry reported.
According to Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, Lavrov will attend the Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting, comprising Denmark, Iceland, Canada, Norway, Russia, the United States, Finland and Sweden, on May 10-11. "Foreign ministers from the Arctic states will discuss the ways to strengthen international cooperation in the Arctic aimed at ensuring the region’s sustainable development. All agreements will be reflected in the final declaration," Zakharova said.
Initially, the top diplomats of the two countries planned a meeting on the sidelines of the Arctic Council, though later it was decided to hold the talks in Washington. Meanwhile, a spokesperson at the White House National Security Council (NSC) told TASS no comment could be offered as of yet on a possible face-to-face meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Russia’s Foreign Minister.
Program Director of the Valdai International Discussion Club’s foundation Dmitry Suslov told TASS that a notable intensification of contacts between Russia and the United States recently demonstrates an intention of the parties to solve the task of "establishing at least a limited Russian-U.S. cooperation and reaching a certain improvement of relations, or, at least, laying the groundwork for preventing any further worsening."
According to Suslov, the meeting of the leaders of the two countries, a particularly intriguing issue for global media since the U.S. President’s inauguration, will be discussed at the meeting between Lavrov and Tillerson. On May 2, presidents of the two countries, Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump, had a phone conversation, which made it clear that they will meet on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg on July 7-8. The talks between the countries’ top diplomats will be an important step in the preparation of the upcoming summit, the expert added.
However, amid the recent de-escalation agreements concerning Syria, Suslov expects the current situation in the country to top the agenda of the Lavrov-Tillerson talks. The United States welcomed the agreement reached by Russia, Iran and Turkey at the talks in Astana on May 4, to set up four de-escalation zones in Syria. Under the memorandum signed, combat operations, including flights by military aircraft, are outlawed. The memorandum was concluded for six months with chances of automatic prolongation for another six months. "They will also discuss the prospects of the Syrian settlement on the whole," Suslov told TASS, adding though that the future of the Syrian President Bashar Assad "will be a difficult matter to discuss."
The Ukrainian conflict and the North Korean issue are also expected to be dwelled upon at the talks between Sergey Lavrov and Rex Tillerson.