US Secretary of State Pompeo to meet Putin

Belgium EU Iran US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo | AP

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will start his maiden visit to Russia with a face-to-face meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the town of Sochi. Post this, they will head towards a joint meeting with President Vladimir Putin. The visit comes less than two weeks after US President Donald Trump voiced optimism about improving relations with Moscow during a phone conversation with President Putin that lasted for more an hour.

Top among topics to be discussed will be state of arms control treaties between the United States and Russia. Besides this, the two super powers are also likely to discuss the Venezuela situation and air strikes in Syria, US has long urged Russia to stop. They are also likely to discuss North Korea and special counsel Robert Mueller's report on the President Trump's collusion with Russia with regard to the US elections.

“We understand full well that leading countries of the world will sooner or later get such weapons,” Putin said. “This means that we should get hold of defences against such types of weapons before” Western countries put such weapons into combat service. Trump's enthusiasm for courting Putin has little support from Washington. The White House has kept up a campaign of pressure including sanctions on Russia over alleged election meddling and Moscow's support for armed separatists in Ukraine. Pompeo, despite his close relationship with Trump, left little doubt on where he stood in remarks Saturday in California.

Both the United States and Russia hope to make some progress on arms control, with Moscow seeking a five-year extension of the New START treaty, which caps the number of nuclear warheads well below Cold War limits and is set to expire in 2021. Pompeo said that US policymakers in recent decades had “drifted from realism" and chastised them for believing that “enfolding the likes of China and Russia into a so-called rules-based international order would hasten their domestic evolution towards democracy”.