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Senior U.S. Officials Set To Meet Russian Counterparts

  • RFE/RL

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (pictured) is scheduled to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on February 16 in Bonn, Germany.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (pictured) is scheduled to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on February 16 in Bonn, Germany.

WASHINGTON -- The two top diplomats and top military officers from Russia and the United States are set to meet for the first time since the U.S. officials took office.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is scheduled to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on February 16 in Bonn, Germany.

Their talks are the highest-level official meeting between U.S. and Russian officials since President Donald Trump was inaugurated on January 20.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova didn't specify what Lavrov and Tillerson would discuss -- saying only that their talks would concern "bilateral relations that were driven into deadlock by the previous [U.S.] administration."

A U.S. State Department official told RFE/RL, "We don't have any meetings to preview at this time."

General Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, also plans to meet his counterpart, Russian General Valery Gerasimov, on February 16 in Baku, Azerbaijan.

A statement released by Dunford's office on February 15 said their agenda would focus on "the current state of U.S.-Russian military relations and the importance of consistent and clear military-to-military communication to prevent miscalculation and potential crises."

In Brussels, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on February 15 that the Baku meeting between Dunford and Gerasimov was "important."

Stoltenberg said he welcomed attempts by "NATO allies on a bilateral basis" to "develop lines of communications and develop the dialogue with Russia."

Stoltenberg also noted that in the last two NATO-Russia Council meetings -- which were aimed at addressing "military transparency, risk reduction" and other military issues between NATO and Russia -- there had been "no direct contact" between Gerasimov and Czech General Petr Pavel, the chairman of NATO's Military Committee.

The Military Committee is the senior military authority in NATO and the primary source of military advice to NATO's civilian decision-making bodies -- the North Atlantic Council and the Nuclear Planning Group.

With reporting by Mike Eckel in Washington and Rikard Jozwiak in Brussels
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