US envoy David Hale, Russia’s Sergey Ryabkov discuss bilateral relations amid rising tensions

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Washington, July 11: Senior United States diplomat David Hale has on Wednesday met with Russian deputy foreign minister Sergey Ryabkov in Helsinki to discuss the current US-Russian relations, the US state department said, amidst rising tensions between two nations over ranges of issues.

The meeting between hale, the undersecretary for political affairs, and Russia’s Ryabkov comes some days after a meeting between US President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, according to Reuters news reports.

In an official statement, state department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said, “The under Secretary stressed that while the United States seeks to narrow differences and foster cooperation with Russia on a number of global challenges, Russia’s negative actions continue to be a barrier for progress in our bilateral relationship.” She further said they had also discussed issued across Asia, the Middle East, and Europe.

Ryabkov said they both held a discussion about the crisis in Venezuela but however, they failed to reach a common ground. China and Russia both are loyal allies of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, while most western nations have extended their support to the embattled’s opposition leader Juan Guaido, who proclaimed himself as the legitimate interim president of Venezuela.

Ryabkov was quoted by RIA news agency as saying, “I discussed Venezuela with Hale, the dialogue on this issue was difficult.” He added, “There is no common ground with the U.S. on Venezuela so far. Russia does not have military forces in Venezuela.”

TASS news agency quoted Ryabkov as saying they did not discuss detained formed US marine, Paul Whelan, in Russian over spying charges, which he strongly denies any wrongdoing.

“We indicated that we are ready to exchange people who are serving sentence in the U.S. and Russia. Paul Whelan is not among them because there is no verdict yet in his case,” Ryabkov said, according to TASS.

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