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Russia, US hope for better relations

16 May 2019

If Russia meddles in next year's election, "it would put our relationship in an even worse place", the top U.S. diplomat told a joint news conference with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, calling on Moscow "to demonstrate that these types of activities are a thing of the past". "If Russia were to engage in that in 2020, it would put our relationship in an even worse place than it is".

"I made clear to Foreign Minister Lavrov, as we've made clear for the past months that interference in American elections is unacceptable", Pompeo said.

Lavrov said the Mueller report and "baseless" allegations of Putin-Trump collusion in the 2016 election had "frozen" the relationship.

Speaking to reporters after a meeting with Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen, Mr. Putin said that Iran risks ramping up the possibility of military conflict if it scraps key portions of the Obama-era nuclear deal.

Pompeo was set to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin at his residence in Sochi later in the evening, for the countries' highest-level bilateral talks in almost a year.

Russian Federation and America on Tuesday agreed to seek better relations and ease tensions, even as they clashed on issues ranging from Iran and Venezuela to alleged Kremlin meddling in USA elections.

Putin told Pompeo his recent telephone conversation with Trump raised hopes for an improvement in relations. "And I think that our talks here today were a good step in this direction", said Pompeo. Pompeo said in the news conference that Trump remains interested in bringing other countries, including China, into an arms-control framework - an idea that has drawn skepticism in Moscow.

Putin said Russian Federation was glad to help mediate the deal and would be willing to help in the future, but he added Russian Federation "is not a rescue squad" and can not fix "everything that doesn't depend on us entirely".

As well as the issue of interference in U.S. elections, the two men also clashed over Venezuela, with Lavrov sharply criticising Washington for trying to undermine President Nicolas Maduro, who Pompeo said must now step down in the face of economic crisis and large-scale protests against his rule.

"We want every country interfering in Venezuela to cease doing that".

He said there will be no negotiations on a new nuclear deal.

Pompeo cancelled a stop in Moscow Monday to instead have an unscheduled meeting in Brussels with European foreign ministers, who have been uncomfortable with the hawkish direction of the USA on Iran.

The move was reportedly a response to Tehran's alleged plans to carry out attacks on U.S. forces and allies in the Middle East.

The observers say Putin appears to be willing to get more involved in North Korean issues, while promoting dialogue with the US against the backdrop of growing momentum toward improved US-Russian ties.

Russia, US hope for better relations