July 4 (UPI) — A group of Republican U.S. lawmakers met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Moscow on Tuesday with hopes of mending the relationship between the two countries.
Sens. Richard Shelby of Alabama, John Kennedy of Louisiana, John Hoeven of North Dakota, Jerry Moran of Kansas, Steve Daines of Montana, John Thune of South Dakota, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Rep. Kay Granger of Texas, arrived in St. Petersburg on Saturday, according to Russia’s TASS news agency.
The delegation traveled to Moscow on Monday to meet Lavrov, who called the meeting “very timely,” as it came two weeks before a planned summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland, on July 16.
“I hope the visit will symbolize the restoration of ties between the parliaments. The parliamentarians are people’s representatives, they reflect the nation’s sentiment,” he said.
Daines told CNBC the trip was motivated by national security as the lawmakers wanted to “personally assess the threats Russia poses, and what actions are necessary to keep our nation secure.”
Shelby told Lavrov the meeting was arranged “realizing that we have a strained relationship when we could have a better relationship between the U.S. and Russia.”
“We have some common interests,” Shelby said. “We are competitors, but we don’t necessarily need to be adversaries.”
No Democrats were in attendance and David Carle, a spokesman for the appropriations committee’s ranking Democrat, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said “we have nothing to do with it.”
During their summit later this month Putin and Trump are expected to discuss “relations between the United States and Russia and a range of national security issues” as well as “vital issues of the international agenda.”