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Sunday September 22nd, 2019 2:30PM

The Latest: Kremlin open to any format for Trump meeting

By The Associated Press
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MOSCOW (AP) — The Latest on the visit to Russia by U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo (all times local):

11:45 p.m.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's foreign affairs adviser says the Kremlin is prepared to agree to any format for a meeting of Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump.

Yuri Ushakov made the statement Tuesday to Russian reporters following Putin's meeting with visiting U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the Black Sea city of Sochi.

Trump has said he is aiming to meet with Putin at the G20 meeting in Japan in June. Russian officials say there has been no formal proposal from the White House.

Ushakov said: "We are prepared for any kind of contact. We can talk with President Trump 'on foot" (on the sidelines), we can sit down for more detailed talks. It all depends on the attitude of our American partners."

Pompeo held three hours of meetings with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Sochi. He and Lavrov then met with Putin.

Ushakov said Pompeo and Putin discussed issues that included Syria, Afghanistan and Venezuela, but that Ukraine and human rights were not discussed.

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9:40 p.m.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has told visiting U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that a telephone conversation with President Donald Trump this month encouraged him to think relations between Russia and the United States might improve.

Putin made the comments Tuesday at the beginning of a meeting with Pompeo and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Pompeo and Lavrov held three hours of talks earlier in the day.

Putin said his May 3 phone call with Trump "created the impression that the president intends to restore Russian-American connections and contacts to resolve joint issues that present mutual interests."

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7:25 p.m.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says he has warned the Russian foreign minister against interference in the next American presidential election.

Pompeo said Tuesday at a news conference after three hours of talks with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov that "interference in American elections is unacceptable and if the Russians were engaged in that in 2020 it would put our relationship in an even worse place than it has been."

Pompeo also said that the United States wants to avoid war with Iran as tensions rise between the two countries.

He said that "we fundamentally don't seek a war with Iran."

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7:05 p.m.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says that while meeting with Russia's foreign minister he urged Russia to end its support of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

Pompeo and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met for more than three hours in the Russian city of Sochi on Tuesday. The two are to brief Russian President Vladimir Putin on the results of their talks.

Venezuela's political upheaval has been a growing issue in the divide between Washington and Moscow. The United States recognizes opposition leader Juan Guaido as the interim president.

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3:45 p.m.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says that he hopes that his talks with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will dispel "suspicions and prejudices on both sides" and help to reset the long-damaged ties between the two countries.

Speaking at the start of his meeting with Pompeo, Lavrov said on Tuesday that the strained ties between Russia and the U.S. "not only hinder our security but also cause worry to the entire international community." He said Moscow is willing to work with Washington on several issues, including the fight against terrorism and regional conflicts.

Lavrov said that "it's time to start building a new constructive framework" of how Russia and the U.S. see each other.

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3:35 p.m.

U.S. State Secretary Mike Pompeo has told Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the start of their talks in Russia that he hopes that the U.S. and Russia can mend their relations and find areas of mutual cooperation.

Pompeo said in televised remarks at the meeting venue in the Black Sea resort of Sochi that he has come to Russia because President Donald Trump is "committed to improve this relationship."

He said that each country wants to protect its interests but that there are areas for mutually beneficial cooperation, including the fight against terrorism. Pompeo said that an improved relationship, damaged by Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014, its interference in the 2016 U.S. elections and U.S. sanctions against Russia, "will be good not only for our two countries but for the whole world as well."

Pompeo is expected to meet President Vladimir Putin after his talks with Lavrov.

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2:25 p.m.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has arrived in the Black Sea resort of Sochi for rare talks with Russian leaders.

Pompeo landed in Sochi on Tuesday where he is expected to sit down for talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov before meeting with President Vladimir Putin.

Pompeo and the Russians are expected to discuss arms control, Iran and Syria as well as issues relating to increasingly tense U.S.-Russian relations.

The Secretary of State earlier scrapped the Moscow leg of his trip to stop by Brussels where he had talks with European leaders about the mounting tensions with Iran.

___

1:30 p.m.

The Kremlin says President Vladimir Putin will be discussing arms control, Iran and Syria at upcoming talks with visiting U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Pompeo is arriving in Russia's Black Sea resort of Sochi Tuesday for talks with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. He is expected to meet with Putin after that.

Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters that he expects the meeting to focus on arms control, Iran, Syria, the crisis in Venezuela and North Korea's nuclear program.

Before hosting Pompeo, Putin is expected to visit a military facility in the south that manufactures some of Russia's most modern fighter jets. Asked whether it was deliberately timed to coincide with Pompeo's visit, Peskov argued this was a routine visit and not a "message" to anyone.

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