The head of the American diplomacy Mike Pompeo, who came to Russia to break the ice with Vladimir Putin, tried to find areas of agreement on concrete issues like Syria despite many persistent disagreements.
The visit of the US Secretary of State in Sochi, on the Black Sea, where he was received by the Russian president after three hours of talks with his counterpart Sergei Lavrov, is the meeting at the highest level between officials of the two rival powers since the July Helsinki Summit. The conciliatory tone of US President Donald Trump against the Kremlin master then shocked the American political class.
"We have said repeatedly that we would like to restore full relations," said the Russian president at the beginning of the meeting.
"Some areas of cooperation are excellent, North Korea, Afghanistan and the fight against terrorism," said Mike Pompeo. "These are things we can rely on."
Before getting on the plane, the top American diplomat has highlighted the issues that Moscow and Washington could advance together, including the Syrian conflict that has claimed more than 370,000 lives since 2011, driven to the flight of millions of people. and broke up the country.
According to him, the two countries now have "a common idea of the blocking points" of the political settlement and can "work together on how to unblock it".
The Kremlin did not refer to any concrete agreement, simply stating that the Syrian conflict had been discussed between the two men.
Mike Pompeo also pointed out that Moscow and Washington have "the same goals" on the North Korean nuclear issue, although the warm meeting between Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong A late April contrasted with the fiasco of the Hanoi summit with Donald Trump. February.
– "Unacceptable" interference –
From Venezuela to the disarmament treaties, the list of disagreements remains very long between the two rival powers and no breakthrough was announced Tuesday. But the White House hopes the end of the investigation of the special prosecutor Robert Mueller, who concluded less than two months ago to Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election in the United States but not to collusion between the team of the candidate Trump and Russia, allow to turn the page of icy relations.
The subject, which poisoned the first part of Donald Trump's term and hindered his promise of a rapprochement campaign with the Kremlin, nonetheless gave rise to a showdown between Mike Pompeo and Sergei Lavrov.
"The interference in the US elections is unacceptable," said Mike Pompeo, who estimated in late April that Moscow would continue to interfere in the United States for decades.
If Russia interfered in the US presidential election of 2020, "it would further aggravate our relationship, we would not tolerate it," warned the Secretary of State, asking Moscow to "demonstrate that this type of activity belongs to the past."
"The facts show that those who put this subject up have no evidence," Sergei Lavrov snapped.
– See you in Japan? –
Vladimir Putin has chosen to focus on the good news. He welcomed a "fairly objective" investigation because he concluded that there was no collusion, without mentioning the fact that the report established an interference in 2016, which Russia has always denied.
During the meeting, in camera, the subject "has not been addressed", nor the other point of tension in recent weeks, Venezuela, according to the adviser of the Kremlin Yuri Ushakov at its conclusion, calling the interview "not bad".
Retaining the will of both parties to "clean up relations", he said that Mike Pompeo had raised the interest of Donald Trump for an interview on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Japan in late June: "We are ready for any contact" .
If Mike Pompeo seems to have avoided some issues that angry with Vladimir Putin, he particularly opposed Sergei Lavrov on the Venezuelan political crisis, Mr Pompeo asking Russia to stop supporting the Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.
"Democracy is not established by force," Lavrov replied.