Senate Republicans Meet Lavrov in Moscow Ahead of Trump-Putin Summit

Delegation led by Appropriations chairman Shelby

Alabama GOP Sen. Richard Shelby told Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, shown here at a news conference at the United Nations in January, that the U.S. and Russia might be competitors, “but we don’t necessarily have to be adversaries.” (Drew Angerer/Getty Images file photo)

Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby told Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov Tuesday that he hoped for an improvement in relations between the United States and the Russian Federation.

“We have a strained relationship, but we could have a better relationship between he U.S. and Russia, because there’s some common interests around the world that we hopefully can work together on,” Shelby said, according to video from the meeting in Moscow. “We can be competitors. We are competitors, but we don’t necessarily need to be adversaries.”

“So, we’re hoping that coming out of the Putin-Trump meeting in Helsinki we will see the beginning, maybe of a new day,” the Alabama Republican said. “The world’s better off, I believe, if Russia and the U.S. have fewer tensions.”

Shelby has been leading an all-Republican congressional delegation to Russia, of mainly appropriators. The lawmakers were joined for the meeting with Lavrov by U.S. Ambassador Jon Huntsman.

President Donald Trump is scheduled to meet formally with Russian President Vladimir Putin on July 16, in Helsinki. Foreign policy observers are concerned about the approach Trump will take with Russia at that meeting.

GOP lawmakers on the trip with Shelby include Sens. Steve Daines of Montana, John Hoeven of North Dakota, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, John Kennedy of Louisiana, Jerry Moran of Kansas and John Thune of South Dakota.

Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, also joined the trip.

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