12:29 GMT23 January 2021
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    A Congressional delegation led by senior Republican Senator Richard Shelby has held talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and other officials ahead of the upcoming summit between Presidents Putin and Trump in Helsinki.

    "I thought we had a good meeting. We discussed a lot of serious issues and mainly focused on the upcoming meeting with President Trump and President Putin," Shelby said of the meeting, speaking to reporters outside the Russian Foreign Ministry building in Moscow.

    "We said look, we will be competitors, but we don't need to be adversaries and maybe we'll have a new day, but we'll have to wait and see," Shelby added.

    Noting that there were "no results yet" and that this was "just the beginning," the Alabama senator emphasized that both countries are interested "not a strained relationship, but a better relationship."

    Asked if Crimea was brought up during the delegation's meeting with Lavrov, the senator confirmed that it had. "We discussed a lot of things, including that," he said.

    Asked whether the talks would be productive given the domestic pressure faced by President Trump, Shelby emphasized the importance of dialogue.

    "I think we have to look at Russia as a superpower, and as a competitor, not an adversary; we'll see what happens. [Presidents Putin and Trump] will have to go to their meeting. They will. I think they're both looking for a better day."

    The Russian and US presidents will meet in Helsinki, Finland on July 16, and are expected to discuss a broad range of issues, including Syria, Ukraine, and Crimea, as well as claims of Russian meddling in US elections. The Helsinki meeting will be the third time Putin has met face to face with Trump since the US president stepped into office in January 2017.


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    diplomatic mission, remarks, diplomacy, Richard Shelby, Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump, Sergei Lavrov, US, Russia
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