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Pompeo, Lavrov Hold 'Good,' 'Constructive' Talks On Venezuela


U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (file photo)
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (file photo)

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he had a "good conversation" with his Russian counterpart about Venezuela and other subjects, while Sergei Lavrov called the talks "constructive."

The two diplomats met on the sidelines of a meeting of the Arctic Council, held in northern Finland on May 6, one day after Pompeo pressed for Russia to “get out” of Venezuela.

The diplomats’ meeting came amid simmering tensions over the crisis in Venezuela.

Washington has backed Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, and even called him the country's legitimate leader. Moscow, meanwhile, has sent military advisers to help government forces loyal to President Nicolas Maduro.

After the May 6 meeting, Pompeo told reporters that he hoped to make progress with Moscow in areas where the two countries have common interests.

"It was a good conversation. We covered a wide range of issues," Pompeo said.

"We have interests that are definitely different," he said. "There was a desire to begin to try and find paths where we can make real progress on places where we have overlapping interests, as narrow as they may be, and hope we can achieve that."

Lavrov repeated his comments from a day before, saying that any military intervention in Venezuela would be "catastrophic."

"We have had a good and constructive conversation," he said.

Prior to leaving for Finland, Pompeo told ABC that the message he was bringing to Lavrov was: "The Russians must get out."

"It's very clear, we want the Russians out, we want the Iranians out, we want the Cubans out. It's very clear," he added.

Before he departed Moscow for Finland, Lavrov met with Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza and accused the United States of leading "an unprecedented campaign" to oust "Venezuela’s legitimate authorities."

“Attempts at a violent coup in Caracas have nothing to do with the democratic process and only frustrate prospects for political settlement of the crisis," Lavrov said.

"We call on both the Americans and those who support them to drop irresponsible plans and act exclusively within the frames of international law," Lavrov said.

Moscow, which has substantial economic ties to Maduro's government, sent planes to Venezuela in March, carrying nearly 100 military personnel who the U.S. government believes included special forces and cybersecurity experts.

U.S. President Donald Trump told reporters on May 3 that he wasn't looking to get the American military involved in Venezuela.

Trump said that in a call with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Putin had assured him that "he is not looking to get involved in Venezuela other than he'd like to see something positive happen for Venezuela."

"And I feel the same way," Trump said.

With reporting by Reuters, Interfax, and AFP
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