Helsinki, Finland | THE INDEPENDENT | Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met here for the first time on Wednesday, expressing willingness to cooperate but also admitted “serious differences” amid the two countries’ tense relations.
Meeting with his counterpart on the sidelines of an Arctic Council meeting in the Icelandic capital of Reykjavik, Lavrov said Moscow and Washington have to decide on their further cooperation despite there are “serious differences” in a series of issues between the two sides.
“We have serious differences in the assessment of the international situation, we have serious differences in the approaches to the tasks which have to be solved for its normalization,” Lavrov said.
“Our position is very simple,” the Russian diplomat said. “We are ready to discuss all the issues without exception, but under the perception that the discussion will be honest, with the facts on the table, and of course on the basis of mutual respect.”
For his part, Blinken said the Joe Biden administration seeks “a predictable, stable relationship” with Russia, noting that Washington wants to work with Russia on some areas of mutual interests, including the anti-pandemic fight, climate change, as well as the nuclear issues related to Iran and the Korean Peninsula.
But at the beginning of his speech, Blinken said that it was “no secret that we have our differences” and that Washington would respond “if Russia acts aggressively.”
Relations between Russia and the United States have been intensifying in recent months. The two sides have obvious differences on issues related to Ukraine, cybersecurity, human rights, and U.S. election interference.
U.S. President Biden proposed In April holding a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Europe this summer, and in early May expressed the hope that he will meet Putin during his visit to Europe in June.
It is expected that the two top diplomats will prepare for the summit and may further compare notes on some specific issues.