Suspicions, prejudices hinder ties: Lavrov tells Pompeo

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov

Moscow,  Russia would like to rebuild ties with the US through a dialogue built on trust because suspicions and prejudices had only served to hinder bilateral security, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday at a meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

Lavrov told Pompeo, who had flown in earlier in the day, that restoring good relations with the US would be a starting point to finding common ground between the two nations, Efe news reported.

“I’m here today because President (Donald) Trump is committed to improving this relationship,” Pompeo replied to Lavrov in front of the press.

“As I think you said, we have differences, each country will protect its own interests, look out for its own interests,” the top US official said.

On his first official visit to Russia, Pompeo told Lavrov that he looked forward to tackling a range of bilateral issues although he acknowledged there would likely be areas where the pair would inevitably struggle to find common ground.

The pair recently met on the sidelines of the Arctic Council in Finland.

“I believe that it is time to build a new more constructive and responsible matrix of our mutual perception and we are ready to do this if our US colleagues and counterparts are willing to do that,” the Russian Foreign Minister said.

“We see that there are certain suspicions and prejudices on both sides but this is not a way to have a win-win situation because that mistrust hinders both your security and our security,” he added.

Lavrov said that “the key to restoring positive relations was to re-establish dialogue based on trust at all levels of the relationship”.

“We’ll try it, see how it turns out,” he added.

Pompeo herald the US-Russian cooperation in the ambit of security and counter-terror, which he said had saved Russian and American lives. He also highlighted the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and regional conflict resolution as other successful areas in the Washington-Moscow relationship.

The talks come as the US tensions with Iran escalated, while other geopolitical topics high on the agenda would likely revolve around Venezuela and Ukraine.

Tehran remains an ally of Moscow as both sides back Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad in the civil war there and both sit on the negotiating table with Turkey in the so-called Astana talks aimed at establishing peace in the war-torn nation.

Meanwhile, the US is leading an escalation in tensions against Iran and has ordered an increase in American military presence in the region to ward off what Washington says is the possibility that Iran was readying to mount destabilizing attacks.

Pompeo is also due to meet Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.