U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will meet next week in Finland, as tensions simmer between the countries over the crisis in Venezuela.
Russian media quoted Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, who said Friday that a meeting has been set up on the sidelines of next week’s ministerial session of the Arctic Council in Rovaniemi.
The State Department also confirmed the talks.
“Foreign Minister Lavrov will be there, the Secretary [Pompeo] will be there, they’ve got the Arctic Council ministerial and the related events to that, and they will have an opportunity, obviously, to meet and review whatever topics they choose to,” said a senior State Department official.
That official added Venezuela is likely to be discussed.
Wednesday, Pompeo told Lavrov in a phone call that “the intervention by Russia and Cuba is destabilizing for Venezuela and for the U.S.-Russia bilateral relationship.” Pompeo also urged Russia to stop support for Venezuela’s embattled Nicolas Maduro.
Washington has accused Russia of talking Maduro out of leaving Venezuela. Moscow has denied the allegation.
A senior Russian diplomat is confirming that Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will meet U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meet next week in Finland at a time of simmering tensions between the two countries over the crisis in Venezuela.
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov was quoted as saying Friday by state news agency TASS that the meeting has been set up.
Reports say the pair will meet on the sidelines of the Arctic Council ministerial session on Monday and Tuesday in the city of Rovaniemi.
The unrest in Venezuela is likely to be a key point of discussion. The United States views President Nicolas Maduro’s re-election last year as illegitimate and has recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president. Russia is backing Maduro.