Washington, July 4: US State Department said on Tuesday that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov earlier on the day to discuss the future meeting of the two nation’s presidents. According to a statement issued by State Department’s spokesperson Heather Nauert, Pompeo and Lavrov discussed the upcoming meeting between US President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, Xinhua reported. The two officials also discussed issues related to Syria and North Korea, read the statement. Also on Tuesday, the Russian Foreign Ministry confirmed the phone conversation.
The White House said on Monday that the United States does not recognize Russia’s alleged “attempt” on Crimea, and its sanctions on Russia will remain in place. On the same day, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov stressed that the issue of Russia’s annexation of Crimea would not be up for discussion at the summit. “The Russian president has repeatedly stated and explained to his interlocutors that the issue of Crimea cannot be and never will be on the agenda, as Crimea is an integral part of Russia,” he said, adding that Moscow is open to dialogue and compromise on other issues. Russia was expelled from the Group of Seven in 2014 and has since then endured sanctions of the West after its incorporation of Crimea. Last week, the Kremlin and the White House announced that the presidents of both countries would hold a summit in Finland’s capital Helsinki on July 16. The two leaders are expected to discuss bilateral relations, national security and top international issues. (IANS)