The Russian Foreign Ministry has commented on the cancellation of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's visit to Moscow, saying that the move was linked exclusively to the changes in his personal schedule. According to Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, meetings with Pompeo scheduled to take place in Sochi on 14 May would be "full-scale" as planned.
The high-ranking Russian diplomat plans to discuss a range of issues from Venezuela to arms control, Ryabkov told Sputnik.
"We find it useful to learn if the US administration is ready to develop the positive impetus that our dialogue experienced after a phone conversation between our presidents, held on May 3. […] The most important thing is to work pragmatically and not to multiply problems but to at least try to overcome them, to the best of ability," Ryabkov added.
Instead of talks in Moscow previously slated for 13 May, Pompeo will participate in talks with European officials on Iran in Brussels before heading to Russia, where he is slated to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Sochi on 14 May.
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said on Monday that she expects to hold a meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo later in the day in Brussels.
Pompeo's upcoming visit to Russia will be the first of its kind for the US secretary of state. According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, Pompeo and Lavrov are expected to discuss bilateral relations and relevant international problems, including the situation in Syria, Ukraine, and Venezuela. They may also touch upon the Korean issue.
Tensions between the US and Iran have been escalating in recent days. Over the weekend the Pentagon deployed an aircraft carrier strike group and bomber task force to the Persian Gulf in what a senior administration official called a "clear and unmistakable" message to the Islamic Republic.
Pompeo said in a statement on Thursday that Washington was ready to hit back fast and hard in retaliatory strikes against any attacks carried out by Iran or its front-groups and allies.
However, Commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Aerospace Force Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh said Sunday that the US aircraft carrier sent to the Middle East does not pose a threat to Iran and now represents only a target.