U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on May 12, 2015 in Sochi, Russia. Kerry traveled to Russia Tuesday with plans to discuss Ukraine, Yemen, Iraq and Syria with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
SOCHI , Russia, May 12 (UPI) -- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to Russia Tuesday with plans to discuss Ukraine, Yemen, Iraq and Syria with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Kerry met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in the city of Sochi, and will talk with Putin later in the day. Kerry will be the most senior U.S. official to deal with Putin face-to-face since Kerry's meeting with him in Moscow two years ago at the beginning of the Ukraine conflict.
"The trip is part of our ongoing effort to maintain direct lines of communication with senior Russian officials and to ensure U.S. views are clearly conveyed," a State Dept. statement said.
The agenda for the meeting is expected to be wide-ranging but will not include current Western economic sanctions against Russia.
"Bilateral relations first, and only then all the hot spots," said Dmitry Peskov, Putin's spokesman.
Kerry and Lavrov began their meeting by laying a ceremonial wreath at a local World War II memorial.
On Monday the Russian Foreign Ministry released a statement critical of the United States for attempting to isolate Russia. It blamed the White House for the Ukraine crisis, suggested the U.S. "political climate" was responsible for the coldness of relations between Russia and the United States and said NATO forces were moving too closely to Russia in scheduling military exercise near Russia's western border.
Kerry will later travel to Antalya, Turkey, for a NATO foreign ministers' meeting Wednesday.