Pompeo to Lavrov: Trump Administration doesn't recognize Russia's attempted annexation of Crimea

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt speaks with Britain's ambassador to the EU Tim Barrow after a meeting with European foreign ministers at the Europa building in Brussels. — AP

Pompeo crashes Brussels meeting of EU diplomats for Iran talks

Pompeo held talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi on Tuesday.

Pompeo, speaking earlier at a joint news conference with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, acknowledged deep differences on election meddling - and warned Russian Federation to stay out of next year's vote.

"We highlighted that the leadership of DPRK expects certain guarantees of security of their country reciprocated by denuclearization", Lavrov said of his talks with Pompeo, echoing the main focus of President Vladimir Putin's remarks after his summit with DPRK leader Kim Jong Un last month.

"But it's not destined that we're adversaries on all issues and I hope that we can find places where we have a set of overlapping interests and continue to build out strong relationships, at least on those particular issues", Pompeo said.

Moscow and Washington are overdue to dispel "suspicions and prejudices on both sides", Lavrov said, and to "start building a new constructive framework" of how Russian Federation and the U.S see each other.

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They have also introduced a "blocking statute" protecting European companies from the effects of USA sanctions, but many global corporations do more business in the United States than in Iran and have already severed ties there rather than risk running afoul of Washington.

"We are ready to do that if our U.S. colleagues are ready to reciprocate".

"On our behalf, we have said it multiple times that we also would like to rebuild fully fledged relations, and I hope that right now the conducive environment is being built for that", Putin said to Pompeo.

Russia supports dialogue and analysis of all issues by Venezuelans themselves, without ultimatums and preconditions, because we believe that democracy can never be imposed by force, the Russian Minister commented. "I hope that now the necessary conditions are being created", Putin told Pompeo.

Pompeo said that improved ties "will be good not only for our two countries but for the whole world as well".

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The two sides described the talks as "frank, " saying that they wanted to improve relations strained for years over the conflicts in Syria and Ukraine and more recently over strategic arms control and US efforts to oust Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro. The U.S. has accused Iran of threatening to attack American interests in the Middle East and suggested that Iran or Iranian proxies are behind incidents of alleged sabotage on Emirati, Norwegian and Saudi tankers in the Persian Gulf.

"On Venezuela, we have disagreement", Pompeo said. President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the deal in May 2018.

The U.S. and North Korea addressed the point explicitly in the Singapore Agreement signed last June, but have yet to carry out additional steps on the issue beyond Washington's cancellation of some joint military exercises with South Korea.

Pompeo's talks with Lavrov are the highest-level face-to-face talks between Washington and Russia since the release of special counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian election meddling.

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